The National- Friday, January 21, 2011
By PATRICK TALU
PAPUA New Guinea has become the only country in the world to be granted a “special treatment” by the European Union (EU) for its tuna export products .
This means that fishery products from whatever origin but processed in PNG have been allowed to enter the EU markets duty-free and quota-free.
At present, PNG-processed tuna products enter the EU markets in the form of canned fish produced by pioneering cannery RD Tuna Corp.
The EU parliament in Brussels endorsed the special treatment under the EU-Pacific interim economic partnership agreement granted “consent” to the deal.
A statement yesterday by the delegation of the EU to PNG in Port Moresby quoted EU charge d’affaires Roberto Cecutti as saying: “With this agreement in force, PNG will be the only country in the world being granted a special treatment in the fishery sector by the EU.
“Fishery products from whatever origin and processed in PNG can now be exported duty-free and quota-free to the EU market.
“Although the interim economic partnership agreement was already provisionally in force since the end of 2009, the completion of the EU internal procedures gives now legal certainty and predictability to economic operators,” Cecutti said.
This is the first trade and development agreement to be approved by the European parliament since the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty, which gives legal personality in international law to the EU and replaces the European Community in all its rights and obligations.
The agreement was initialled in 2007, and then signed in 2009 by PNG and Fiji.
It was already provisionally in force since the end of 2009.
It grants unconditional duty-free/quota-free access to EU markets, while committing Papua New Guinea and Fiji to an asymmetric opening of their markets.
On top of this, the interim EPA ensures particularly favourable conditions to Pacific countries in terms of rules of origin for fisheries (“global sourcing”).
The EU keeps negotiating a regional comprehensive EPA with all the 14 Pacific ACP countries.