Agri-Businesses Urged to Take Advantage of Duty Free Access Under EPA


Vincent Atkins, Least Developed Countries (LDC) Trade Policy/Technical Advisor for the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery, has urged agri-businesses to take advantage of duty free/quota free entry into the European Union market, which is provided under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
He was speaking at a forum on the EPA and its implications for the agricultural sector, hosted by the Agriculture Ministry in collaboration with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Jamaica Producers Group, CB Chicken, and Tru-Juice, at the Knutsford Court Hotel on June 16.
Mr. Atkins explained that the agreement eliminates tariff escalation, which was one of the problems that existed with other trading arrangements. This is a situation in which the primary product would enter the external market duty free or at a low tariff level, but the processed form of that product, would face a significant tariff.
“For example, in the case of cocoa, the beans would enter virtually duty free or at a low tariff level, but then processed cocoa – cocoa powder, chocolate, (and) confectionery made out of cocoa – would enter at a significantly higher tariff. Under the EPA, that kind of situation no longer exists, because agriculture covers not just primary agricultural commodities, but includes all the processed commodities, including rum, beer, canned foods, sauces, juices, condiments, etc,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Mr. Atkins noted as significant, the commitment made by the EU to take into account, the importance of traditional products such as rice, sugar, rum, and bananas, to CARIFORUM countries.
The European Commission and CARIFORUM countries initialed an EPA, which is a comprehensive free trade agreement encompassing goods, services, investment, government procurement, and intellectual property rights. The EU has already given approval for CARIFORUM goods to enter its market on a duty free/quota free basis as of January 1 of this year. Sugar will enjoy these benefits as of 2009.

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