Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade Hon. Peter Shanel Agovaka says Solomon Islands is committed to negotiating a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU)

This was after commissioning a study to look at the potential value that could be derived from the global sourcing provisions in an interim EPA and comprehensive EPA to our economy.

Minister Agovaka made the assurance during a meeting of Trade Ministers from the Pacific bloc of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States when they met on August 10 in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea to finalize their market access offers and arrangements for the next round of EPA negotiations with the EU.

"We will finalize our revised market access offer based on the results from this study and we envisage submitting it prior to the next EPA negotiations." Mr Agovaka said.

Market access offers are proposed national plans to gradually reduce duties on goods imported from the EU under an EPA.

He said an EPA with the EU will be a very long term arrangement. It will certainly outlive the Cotonou Partnership Agreement which lapses in 2020.

"It's implications on PACER-Plus would have to be carefully analyzed to ensure there is minimum damage when PACER-Plus kicks in. We therefore need to get this right, not only for our own sake, but more importantly for the sake of our future generations. Hence the slight delay in submitting our market access offers. But we will make every effort to have it ready and in time for the next EPA negotiations with the EU," Mr. Shanel explained.

The next round of negotiations between Pacific ACP States and the EU is scheduled for mid-November 2011 in Brussels, Belgium. Pacific ACP States include all Forum Island Countries: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Source: Press Release, Government Communications Unit