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The European Union (EU) and Fiji held their fourth High Level Political Dialogue under article 8 of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) - EU Partnership (Cotonou) Agreement in Brussels, Belgium, on 20 May 2019 under the co-chairmanship of Fiji's Foreign Minister H.E. Inia Seruiratu and EEAS Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific, Gunnar Wiegand.
The EU and Fiji reviewed bilateral relations, including development cooperation, the EU-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), bilateral cooperation on tax good governance, visa issues, fight against climate change, as well as developments in the Pacific region. Developments in Fiji, including efforts underway to consolidate democracy and human rights, as well as in the EU,including Brexit, were also discussed.
Taking good note of Fiji's call for inclusion in the list of countries with visa-free access to the Schengen area, the EU side confirmed it would give due consideration to Fiji at the next review of the visa list. The EU and Fiji noted that since 1 May Fiji citizens intending to travel to Germany can submit their applications for Schengen visas in Suva. Fiji reported on progress made in its discussions with other EU member states on a similar scheme that would allow for the processing of applications for Schengen visas in Suva, providing for visits to these EU member states.
Fiji outlined a number of tax reforms and initiatives for mobilisation of domestic resources for development that it viewed as essential for the country's consistent economic performance. Both parties took good note of the inclusion of Fiji in the list of non-cooperative jurisdictions, released by the EU on 12 March 2019. The EU and Fiji agreed to discuss this matter further so as to facilitate Fiji's efforts to reach compliance with the requirements, as this will make it possible for the country to be removed from this list.
Discussions also focused on the potential that the Economic Partnership Agreement provides for the strengthening of EU-Fiji trade relations. The EU encouraged Fiji to take a number of steps to further the effective implementation of this Agreement. In this context, the EU and Fiji also discussed the importance of the possible use of global sourcing as a tool to boost investment in the fisheries sector. Global sourcing would allow Fiji to process fishery (and other) products from other countries in the region and export them to the EU without taxes being levied.
The parties also exchanged views on Fiji’s international achievements, including Fiji's election to the Vice-Presidency of the UN Human Rights Council, the country's successful Presidency of COP23, its commitment to Chile's Blue COP25 Presidency and itshosting of the recently concluded Asia Development Bank's Board of Governors Meeting. They assessed the recent visit to Fiji of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres as an indication of Fiji's rising international profile. Both sides stressed their commitment to the full implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and to address effectively the ambition gap.
The EU and Fiji also discussed priorities and developments in the area of human rights and the rule of law against the background of Fiji's accession, in 2018, to the two Human Rights Covenants and also its current role as Vice-President of the UN Human Rights Council.
It is envisaged that the next Political Dialogue meeting will be held in Suva, Fiji, in 2020.
Further information on EU-Fiji relations can be found here.