iEPA tabled for official nod

National, Normal

The National, Monday, May 23, 2011

THE interim economic partnership agreement (iEPA), between the Pacific Islands and European Union to allow PNG fish and other products to enter the European Union market without tariff, is now before parliament for ratification.
Foreign Affairs and Immigrations Minister Don Polye tabled the agreement last week, adding that it must be passed in order for PNG fish, other marine products, palm oil, cocoa, coffee and rubber to enter the EU markets.
He said 55 votes were needed to ratify the iPEA which PNG signed in 2007 to continue to protect the preferential duty free market access for its exports.
Polye said this would allow indigenous businesses the opportunity to export to markets in Europe.
He said an important feature of iEPA was that EU could not impose restrictions on the origins of fish used in canned tuna entering EU markets.
In the past this restrictive rules of origin bind PNG’s fisheries products entering the EU market where the fish caught and labour and equipment used to catch the fish and the fish had to have high percentage of PNG content to enjoy preferential access.
However, a number of EU members were not happy with the new iEPA provision, arguing that it was a direct competitive threat to their industry.
Polye said since 2007, a lot of lobbying by PNG Fisheries Authority and Foreign Affairs and Trade at the highest level resulted in the EU parliament approving iEPA to become fully applicable.
He said the EU consent was given on the condition that the new arrangement would support PNG’s long-term investment prospects.