JIS News

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr. Kenneth Baugh, has said that collaboration between Government and the private sector is necessary, to ensure that practical measures are taken, regarding implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Dr. Baugh pointed out that one of the measures is the improvement of “our own Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures and standards, which will afford our goods easier access in Europe and elsewhere.”
The Minister was addressing the weekly luncheon of the Rotary Club of Kingston, held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, on November 6.
Dr. Baugh, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, emphasised that the strengthening of overall trade facilitation measures, would reduce the time it takes to process goods for import and export. “We are making strides in our customs modernisation .which is a work in progress, and should come into being in the near future, as Jamaica seeks to ready itself for improvement in its capacity to trade, in other words, reducing bureaucracy,” he said.
The Minister said there is a need to build on existing programmes, such as the National Export Strategy and the Legs and Regs Programme, to reduce bureaucracy; and the Vision 2030 Development Plan.
“We have to ensure that these plans complement each other, so that we can make efficient use of resources and we are clear on what the end results will be,” he added.
He pointed out that there are a number of costs attributable to the implementation of the EPA. These include possible loss of tariff revenue, possible dislocation of local industries and possible loss of market share for exporters in Europe. “This should not deter us from putting in place precise plans to mitigate these losses and to restructure our industries, so we do not find ourselves at a disadvantage,” the Minister said.
Dr. Baugh also urged that optimal use should be made of the resources provided under the EPA, specifically development assistance.
“The European Union will be making development assistance available to implement the EPA, and this include technical assistance as well as financial assistance, and sometimes specifically to build capacity in Jamaica, to modernise our productive capabilities to diversify our products, so that we can have more products to enter the market in which we now have access,” he said.
Dr. Baugh encouraged persons to familiarise themselves with the specifications and benefits of the EPA.
“Familiarise yourself with the EPA and develop an understanding of how it will affect you; think creatively and outside of the box on how you can take advantage of the opportunities provided by this partnership, how we can become a part of the value chains that exist internationally and regionally, and how we can establish linkages within our own countries, from national and private sector enterprises, to the community and micro enterprises and small businesses,” he urged.
Dr. Baugh highlighted that the EPA has set up a framework for areas, such as trade in goods, trade in services and e-commerce, competition, intellectual property, public procurement, environmental issues and personal data protection.
He encouraged business leaders, entrepreneurs and the manufacturing sector, to take advantage of the opportunities to build productivity and competitiveness within the sector.
The EPA, which was signed on October 15, 2008, between CARIFORUM countries and the European Union, is a comprehensive free trade agreement, encompassing goods, services, investment, government procurement, and intellectual property rights.