Trade officials from the European Union (EU) and Cariforum held a one-day meeting in Grenada on November 21 at which they reaffirmed the two regions’ commitment to their trade and development partnership.
A joint release from the EU and Cariforum (Caricom plus the Dominican Republic) said that the two sides discussed progress made so far in putting the Cariforum-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) into practice. The EPA aims to promote trade and investment, underpin regional integration and foster sustainable development.
The Head of the EU’s Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean,Ambassador Mikael Barfod highlighted the EU’s ongoing development assistance to help Caribbean governments and businesses put the EPA into practice and tap its opportunities. According to the release, Barfod said that the EU recognises the specific challenges which the Caribbean faces as it seeks to win a larger share of global trade. So the EU is currently investing “over €140m in region-wide ‘aid for trade’ up to 2015. From then until 2020 the EU will provide a further €350m for region-wide development programmes. Regional integration and EPA implementation will be amongst their main goals.”
Cariforum Senior Representative and Meeting Chair, Junior Mahon, in remarks, said, “The Cariforum-EU EPA presents a strategy to assist the Cariforum grouping to build larger markets, foster trade in goods and services as well as stimulate investment.”
The discussions focused on involving civil society in the EPA process by having a consultative committee; trade in agriculture including measures to promote and protect Geographical Indications (GIs) – such as Blue Mountain coffee from Jamaica; and monitoring and reviewing the EPA regularly. The first five-yearly review, due for completion in 2014, was also discussed, along with the creation of a long-term mechanism to monitor the EPA’s results.
The EPA trade and development partnership was signed in 2008. Its goals are to make it easier for people and businesses from the two regions to invest in and trade in goods and services with each other, and to boost growth across the Caribbean.