Fiji’s economic agreement with EU could come at disadvantage: trade organisation
A Pacific trade lobby group says Fiji will be disadvantaged by its newly ratified economic partnership agreement with the European Union.
Fiji formally ratified the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement last week, seven years after its initial signing, allowing free access in the EU for all its products.
Fiji announced it had made the deal official because it needed to protect exports and jobs.
But Pacific Network on Globalisation coordinator Maureen Penjueli says Fiji has been strong-armed into ratifying a deal that does not recognise the needs of the developing economy.
“We think this is a very bad deal for Fiji,” Ms Penjueli told Pacific Beat.
“The rules have become increasingly difficult for countries to sign onto deals that are developmental-friendly.
“It’s really all about losing the policy to and sacrificing pretty much Fiji development policy state, that’s the cost of signing the interim EPA.”
She says Fiji’s ratification of the IEPA is a bid to raise its profile on the international stage, but will be detrimental to its domestic economy.
“There has been no recognition of the very fact that we are indeed small island countries, our economies are really fragile, there are very specific characteristics of our economies, that have now been taken into consideration in negotiating an interim EPAs if you like, with a bloc like the European Union,” she said.
“The decision to ratify is really to save market access and we’ve given up policies too, so these are very difficult decisions for small island countries and the European Commission certainly hasn’t made it any easier, nor has it demonstrated any flexibility in negotiations with island countries.”
Papua New Guinea is in a similar agreement with the European Commission, meaning the EU now has partnerships with the Pacific’s two largest economies.
Ms Penjueli says this reduces the likelihood of the EU signing comprehensive economic agreements with other Pacific island nations.