MEPs on Wednesday gave their green light for the Council to conclude an Interim Economic Partnership Agreement with Papua New Guinea and Fiji, two countries of the Pacific Region with significant exports to the EU.
Parliament is nevertheless concerned about the impact that an agreement would have on regional solidarity and economic integration in the Pacific Region. A second, non-binding, resolution highlights the consequences of the agreement for Papua New Guinea and Fiji in terms of trade relations with the two countries’ closest and largest trading partners, Australia and New Zealand, and also for the fishing, canning and processing industries.
More specifically, MEPs are concerned about Papua New Guinea's decision to derogate from the rules of origin for processed fishery products, which "has turned that country into a genuine hub" for processing canned tuna from countries like the Philippines, Thailand, China, the USA and Australia.
This may have a destabilising effect on the EU's fish canning industry, fear MEPs, who ask the Commission to suspend these exceptional arrangements on the rules of origin if an EU assessment report in 2011 demonstrates the existence of such an effect on the European industry.
Under the Lisbon Treaty, Parliament voted on the Interim Partnership Agreement with Papua New Guinea and Fiji under the consent procedure, which allows MEPs to approve or reject the act but without any amendments. The vote was 540 in favour, 120 against and 20 abstentions.