Economic Partnership Agreement a Good Deal – PM


Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, has said that the recently signed CARIFORUM/European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), while not representing all that the region had asked for “is a good deal”.
“Did we get all that we asked for? No. Did we get a good deal? I say yes”, the Prime Minister stated as he delivered the keynote address at the third annual regional conference on Investments and Capital Markets on Tuesday (Jan. 29) at the Rose Hall Resort and Country Club in Montego Bay.
According to the Prime Minister, some amount of preferential arrangement has been built into the agreement, with approximately 85 per cent of imports to be liberalized over a period of five to 25 years.
The remaining 15 per cent of total imports, those that are either sensitive to the region in terms of domestic production or revenue flows, will continue to be subject to tariffs, he stated.
He noted that the negotiators were also able to get the Europeans to open their markets to Caribbean entertainers, among other things.
He pointed out further that because of the agreement, countries of the region now have a better opportunity to penetrate the European markets, and the deal could also bring an increase in investments to the region.
The Prime Minister called for “regional urgency” in utilizing the opportunities that will be presented, including the establishment of niche markets.
Turning to critics of the agreement, Mr. Golding said that they fall into two categories – those who think the region can exist on its own, and those who think that the world owes the region something.
“Part of our problem, part of what has held back this region for so long, is that there are two many of us who carry not a chip on our shoulder but a whole light pole, and we need to get rid of it so that we can move on”, he stated.
“Our economies cannot survive on their own. Our economies cannot grow if the economic space within which they are to grow is limited to what we have in the region. We have to strengthen our legs. It is time for countries of the Caribbean to stand up on those legs like grown men and women and be prepared to walk into the future,” the Prime Minister stated.

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