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Interim EPAs better for island countries

Fiji Times, Suva

Interim EPAs better for island countries

By Elenoa Baselala

30 March 2011

A comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union may not be possible for the region, Papua New Guinea believes.

Foreign Affairs Minister Don Poyle however believes that countries, depending on the size of their economies, should negotiate interim EPAs like PNG and Fiji.

The two countries have negotiated interim EPAs on sugar and fish with the EU.

Mr Poyle said a comprehensive EPA was too broad but he encouraged other Melanesian Spearhead Group countries to follow PNG and Fiji.

Yesterday, saw the end of the foreign ministers meeting where trade within the group was discussed.

Mr Poyle said PNG was of the view that countries must benefit or play a part in any investment within the country.

"There’s no point in bringing in foreign investment if the people don’t benefit, own it or participate in it," Mr Poyle said.

He added the MSG meeting discussed issues that would promote the influence of the five-nation bloc in the region.

Apart from trade and investment, the leaders also discussed labour mobility as well as strengthening traditions, cultures and values through social activities.

The reviving of the Melanesian Games is a possibility. Mr Poyle said other activities could be religious or the offering of scholarships.