FSMR&D (July 16, 2013): From June 24 – July 5, 2013, the PACPS, which includes the FSM, met with the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, to continue negotiations for the comprehensive EPA. The EPA is a trade agreement that is being negotiated to replace the non reciprocal trade preferences granted by the EU to ACP Countries under the Lome-Cotonou Agreement, which are not compatible with the laws and principles of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The meeting, commonly referred to as the Joint Technical Working Group (JTWG) Meeting, was convened to progress discussions on the key outstanding issues, bearing in mind PACPS’ Leaders mandate to conclude the EPA negotiations by the end of 2013. The Meeting was based on preliminary discussions that took place in a smaller Technical Working Group (TWG) in December 2012 and March 2013.
In general, while there was extensive exchange of information and open discussions, the June-July JTWG Meeting produced mixed outcomes.
While there were some progress on product specific Rules of Origin, and Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary and Technical Barriers to Trade, and market access offers submitted by PACPS, both sides still have divergent views on key areas: for example, PACPS wanted a 20 to 25 year transitional period to remove duties on imports originating in the EU; meanwhile the EC wanted a shorter period.
One point of fundamental disagreement between the two Parties was fisheries, in particular the conservation and management of fisheries resources. While PACPS expressed their willingness and readiness to make commitments to transparency and procedure regarding their conservation and management measures, the EU wanted specific commitments on substantive aspects of the Vessels Day Scheme (VDS). PACPS emphasized that this was a non-negotiable issue for those Countries that are Parties to the Nauru Agreement like the FSM. Instead, PACPS suggested that issues related to the VDS should be separated from the EPA process and dealt with in the appropriate regional and sub-regional forum. Other contentious issues are provisions on the export taxes, the non execution clause, development cooperation, and infant industry protection.
Given the disagreement between PACPS and the EU on fisheries issues, the EC requested more time to undertake a comprehensive consultations with its 28 Member States as well as a re-assessment of the overall EPA negotiations process, before any dates for the next round of negotiations are finalized. The EC also indicated that the internal evaluation will determine their response to PACPS request for global sourcing rules of origin for fisheries products, which is PACPS’ main demand in the EPA negotiations.
In effect in the EPA negotiations, PACPS are seeking extension of global sourcing rules of origin granted for products of HS 1604 and 1605 (cooked and canned fish) to products of for HS 0304 and 0305 (fresh and frozen fish fillets) in addition to the global sourcing rules of origin. Global sourcing rules of origin would ensure that fish caught anywhere by any fishing boat regardless of its flag state, would qualify for duty free entry into the EU market as long as it is landed and processed on shore any PACPS.
The FSM representatives to these meetings were Mrs. Camille Movick-Inatio, Assistant Secretary for Trade and Investment, Mrs. Rhea-Moss Christian, Chief Compliance Manager, NORMA, Mr. Aaron Warren, Assistant Attorney General, FSM Department of Justice, and Mr. Jean Bertrand Azapmo, Trade Adviser under the Commonwealth Secretariat, Hub & Spokes Programme, assigned to FSM R&D.
For information, contact the FSM R&D at 320-2646 or email email@example.com