CARIFORUM-EC ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT: UPDATE
ARTICLE BY ROSALIENE BACCHUS
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On 15 October 2008, after over eight months of heated debates and controversy across the Caribbean
Region, thirteen of the fifteen CARIFORUM
( see Footnote 1) states and the European Commission (EC) signed
an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) at a ceremony in Barbados.  Haiti should sign the Agreement by
2010. Devastated by hurricanes in 2008, the country is in the process of reconstruction.

Guyana signed the EPA on October 20 in Brussels, following the inclusion of two proposed clauses. To
safeguard regional integration, one clause makes provision to take into account the Revised Treaty of
Chaguaramas
(see Footnote 2).  The second clause provides mandatory reviews every five years of the socio-
economic impact on the Caribbean Community and the EC’s commitment to address any adverse effects.

The CARIFORUM-EC EPA is a highly complex and comprehensive Agreement
(see Footnote 3).  It
encompasses market access, services and investment, trade issues, legal and institutional capacity, and
development cooperation. The formation of the CARIFORUM-EC Regional Preparatory Task Force (RPTF)
aims to identify any constraints in the Region in fulfilling its commitments under the EPA. As at the last
meeting of the Task Force, held in Barbados on 9 December 2008, studies have been concluded in six
areas: competitiveness and innovation; customs and trade facilitation; competition policy; public procurement;
technical barriers to trade; and sanitary and phytosanitary requirements for fisheries. Funding for programs
identified in these studies are available for disbursement with the signing of the Caribbean Regional Indicative
Program on 15 November 2008.

The CARIFORUM Secretariat is preparing an EPA Implementation Road Map for regional governments. This
Road Map will set out legislation and policies required at national and regional levels; deadlines for
compliance; estimates of resources needed; and possible sources of funding. Several member states are
establishing national implementation units
(see Footnote 4).  The organization responsible for coordinating the
implementation of the EPA at a regional level is yet to be determined. At a meeting of the CARIFORUM
Council of Ministers held in December 2008, the Dominican Republic suggested four options: the CARICOM
Secretariat, a new CARIFORUM EPA Implementation Authority, the Caribbean Regional Negotiating
Machinery,and the Caribbean Export Development Agency.

In September 2008, the Caribbean Community initiated “study tours” to European capitals. Organizers
focused on seeking opportunities in the creative industry and Information and Communication Technology
(ICT). A follow-up Business Forum, held in Barbados on 24-25 November 2008, brought together about 100
participants from the Caribbean and Europe. Similar Business Forums will provide a platform for dialogue
between traders and investors between all parties of the EPA
(see Footnote 5).

While many CARIFORUM member states are optimistic about the future benefits of the EPA, contentions
remain across the Region. The task at hand is immense, requiring collective effort at all levels of society
throughout the Region. Success in the implementation of the EPA rests on the Region’s capacity for
cooperation and change.


Footnotes
  1. CARICOM member states plus the Dominican Republic.
  2. The Revised Treaty included additional Protocols establishing the Caribbean Community including the CARICOM Single
    Market and Economy.
  3. Copy of the Full Text of the EPA is available on the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM) website at http://new.
    crnm.org/.
  4. State of EPA Negotiation in January 2009, prepared by the European Centre for Development Policy Management, the
    Netherlands, 9 January 2009.
  5. Details and list of participants for these events are available on the Caribbean Export Development Agency Website at www.
    carib-export.com.


Article published in the Guyana Journal, Guyana Journal Publication, Inc., New York, USA, February 2009, p.12.
Reprinted with permission.
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