EC Earmarks Additional (Euro)11million to Assist Caribbean


Head of the European Commission (EC) Delegation in Jamaica, Carlo Pettinato has announced that (Euro)11million has been earmarked for the “next cycle of cooperation” with Jamaica and the wider Caribbean, beginning later this year.
Speaking at the opening of a three-day Technical Assistance to the Caribbean (TACARI) Regional European Union Market Access seminar at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on Monday (March 3), Mr. Pettinato said the EC would specifically be exploring the possibility of providing trade-related assistance, particularly within the context of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
“So we are beginning to think with the government and with the stakeholders, (and) we will start (discussions) very soon, about what we can do with these funds and to develop the capacity to benefit from all the opportunities that are opening up,” he said.
The seminar is part of the TACARI project, which aims to increase trade between Caribbean Community member states and the EU, by promoting the EU market access capacity of intermediary business organizations such as chambers of commerce and industry, sector associations, and export promoters.
Mr. Pettinato suggested that on completion of the seminar and a general overview about how Caribbean states can export into the European market, consideration could be given to staging sectoral workshops “looking at aquaculture or food products in particular sectors, and look, in a very practical way, how this (exports) can be done”.
The EC Head of Delegation said the organization would also be lending support to the process of regional integration, citing it as “something that we very strongly support.” He said the EC would seek to assist Caribbean territories in establishing a strong regional market, which he contended would strengthen the region, thereby enabling it to be competitive in the global market.
Mr. Pettinato disclosed that the EC would also be seeking to assist Jamaica and other Caribbean states to maximize on their exports to European markets, particularly by negotiating on issues such as non-tariff barriers. This is in light of the removal of tariffs on imports from the region by Europe as at January 1 this year.
“The Caribbean region can (now) export to the European Union completely quota free and duty free, except for sugar and rice, which has a short transition period. Now, perhaps, comes the most difficult part, which is what it is that we need (to do) in order to export (more) into the biggest market in the world,” the EC Delegation head stated.
He pointed to the lack of information available to producers on available markets as well as the requisite standards that they needed to comply with, but noted that “this information barrier can be solved quite easily (through the establishment of) the European export help desk, which, in my view, is an excellent tool to overcome this.”
Mr. Pettinato said that the EC would be offering assistance in the area of bureaucracy. “The EU is discussing, for instance in Jamaica, with the government on how to tackle red tape because it is not just a question of entering European markets, (but also) how to exit the market from here. So we are discussing (the possibility of) providing a very strong incentive to (the) government to reform some of these procedures, simplify customs procedures and licensing requirements, and (thereby) shorten the time that is necessary,” he informed.
The seminar is being attended by delegates from the region and Europe and is being jointly staged by Jamaica Trade and Invest; the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Suriname Trade and Industry Association; Employers’ Consultative Association of Trinidad and Tobago; and the EG-aviescenntrum, a Dutch information and consultancy agency on small and medium enterprises with the EU.
The event is being sponsored by PROINVEST, an EU/African, Caribbean and Pacific partnership programme.

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