Saturday, January 27, 2007

 

St-Pierre-Miquelon European Union tariff-free portal

St-Pierre looks for closer relationship: islands could be used as tariff-free portal to Europe
By Ivan Morgan
The Independent
St-Pierre-Miquelon senator Denis
Detcheverry is looking to develop
better economic ties with the
Atlantic provinces — particularly Newfoundland
and Labrador. In December
2006, French President Jacques Chirac
asked Detcheverry to explore sustainable
economic co-operation between the
French islands and the provinces, with a
focus on oil and gas, aquaculture and
tourism.
Detcheverry says using the French territory
as a portal for access to European
markets for products like fish and software
should be explored further by
Canadian businesses. He says products
shipped from St-Pierre to the European
Union can be tariff-free
, provided they
meet French value-added processing
rules.
In an exclusive interview with The
Independent prior to flying into St.
John’s this week, the senator says his
visit is not “a flash in the pan.” He wants
to foster good long-term partnerships
with business and government
— but
these new partnerships must be win-win
for both countries.
Detcheverry says Newfoundland is an
obvious starting place for his tour, as it
has close ties with the province.
Historical ties are the ones that bind,”
he says.
He plans to meet with Intergovernmental
Affairs Minister John Ottenheimer
and Business Minister Kevin
O’Brien and with business leaders in the
aquaculture, oil and gas, and manufacturing
industries.
The senator says St-Pierre-Miquelon
was hit as hard as Newfoundland and
Labrador by the collapse of the fishery,

and the potential to exploit possible oil
and gas reserves is a real hope for them.
He says at a meeting several weeks
ago between oil company Conoco-
Phillips and authorities in St-Pierre, the
company indicated they had discovered
hydrocarbons. Whether the oil is within
French territory is yet to be determined,
and the company’s well analysis will
take another 18 months.
St-Pierre-Miquelon was awarded a
thin band of ocean — mockingly known
as the “baguette” by residents — by an
international tribunal after a dispute with
Canada over territorial rights on the
Grand Banks. Offshore oil rights remain
a bone of contention with Canada for
many St-Pierrais.
The senator says exploration for oil
and gas in their zone has been going on
for a long time and hasn’t materialized.
With the economy of the islands in hard
shape, it can be an anguishing wait.
“It is between hope and despair. If
there is oil then people are happy,” says
the senator. “On the despair side — 18
months? … or more? Will it happen
sooner or later? Will it be too small? Are
we insignificant in the big picture of
world oil and gas? Can they drill around
us? Or under us? The baguette is not
very wide.”
He says St-Pierre-Miquelon realizes
development would certainly be accelerated
if it were integrated into the Atlantic
Canadian oil and gas industry.
“Within a larger context, how can St-
Pierre-Miquelon work within the framework
of Atlantic Canada in partnership?”
The senator also believes there is an
opportunity for partnership between the
two countries on aquaculture science.
He says he’s looking for ways to
include St-Pierre-Miquelon and Canada
in a regional approach to research, technology
transfer, best practices, and new
approaches to marketing.
“How can we use St. Pierre as a
‘pivot’ through value-added (processing)
to reduce tariffs and have a better exposure
of the European market?”
asks
Detcheverry.
The senator says he is interested in
expanding St-Pierre’s already strong
tourism links
with the province.
“Perhaps better marketing,” says
Detcheverry. “Such as regional packages
— six days in Newfoundland or another
Atlantic province, and two in St. Pierre
to buy some wine and a bit of fois gras.”

ivan.morgan@theindependent.ca

http://www.theindependent.ca/
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