EU Australia Online - News & information from the capital of Europe direct to Australian businesses

Pacific Countries Get Assurances on Future Support

  • March 4th, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

png-eu-hq.jpgThe European Union and Ministers from 78 countries in the Pacific, African and Caribbean regions concluded talks this week in Brussels (2.3.07) aimed at expanding trade and development co-operation.

At the end the EU averred it would more than off-set the withdrawal of existing development aid packages, with increased direct assistance – and especially help in developing regional trade.

The European Commission answered criticism from within the European Parliament and development organisations, that the developing countries would suffer because of changes being made in agreements.

The structure for these agreements is called the ACP – for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific.

It said that present accords, based on trade concessions for entry into European markets, had to go, because they did not work. Over thirty years, those countries’ share of world trade had fallen from seven to three percent. They had not diversified their products and prices had fallen. The system had also been declared non-compliant with World Trade Organisation rules.

An EC spokesperson, Amadeu Altafaj, said the change-over from tariff preferences to more direct help, in building up business and trade capability, would mean additional money.

“Yes the European Coinmisssion assured the develoiping coiuntriews that we will increase our development aid,” he said.

He said funding to assist the build-up of regional trade would be more than doubled, to 290-million Euros p.a. (A$489.3-million; The main European Development Aid Fund would be increased by 35%, to EU22.7-billion, over 2008-13 (A$38-billion). Development projects would include infrastructure work and funding to help with the adjustment to changes to tougher competition.

Following its military coup, FIJI is continuing in the program, but has been told that (apart from humanitarian assistance to citizens), economic development aid will stop if there is not enough progress on human rights and a return to democracy

“If the responses are not satisfactory of course we will have to take measures in terms of suspending partially or totally our aid,” Mr Altafaj said.

The fifteen Pacific governments represented in the ACP are Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Picture: Showing the flag: EU Representatiion offices in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea