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Head of the European Union Delegation to Jamaica, Belize, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Cayman Islands, Her Excellency Ambassador Paola Amadei, is dispelling misconceptions about the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

This, particularly in relation to the agreement, which the EU signed with Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) member countries in 2008. This facility, she points out, has been described, among other things, as a “Trojan Horse” that would “swamp” the CARIFORUM market.

The EPAwas established to create a free trade area (FTA) between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP).

The Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM), which was established in 1992, is a subgroup of the ACP States. It comprises the 15 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member countries and the Dominican Republic and serves as a base for economic dialogue with the European Union.

Speaking at the recent signing of a $240.7 million (€2.25 million) EPA Capacity Building Project agreement at the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, in Kingston, Ambassador Amadei said other misconceptions arising included the belief that the EPA will result in significant loss of revenue in what is deemed an “already difficult context”; and that the facility would be an “instrument of inequitable struggle” between the EU and CARIFORUM.

“To this I…reply that the EPA is a call for a new dynamic approach towards globalization and that…can contribute to setting the Caribbean economies on the right track to seize opportunities created by globalization. The EPA, and globalization itself, imposes (on) Jamaica and…the Caribbean region, structural reforms linked to good governance, regional integration, and (a) business environment…reforms that are needed, with or without the EPA,” she stated.

Additionally, she pointed out the EPA is “directly oriented towards increasing investments in the region, to the full benefit of enterprises, employment, and, thus, national wealth”.

In citing that the creation of an environment conducive to the development of trade and investment, is a catalyst for leveraging growth in Jamaica, Ambassador Amadei contended that, against this background, there is no need for Jamaica to remain in the lower tier of the doing business and competitiveness rankings.

“Conducting reforms to improve the business environment, the management of public finances and deepening regional integration are objectives within reach .This is the main contribution of the EPA. (The) EPA’s rational is to help create a turning point where trade spurts growth and development,” she argued.

The EU Delegation Head pointed out that since the establishment of the EPA with the CARIFORUM in 2008, the facility has served as the basis of the trading relationship between the EU and that body.

She noted that the facility aims to position the Caribbean as an expanding market where residents and foreigners will find opportunities for growth and security for their investments.

“All in all, the EPA is a driver for change and much needed reforms. It aims at, ultimately, ensuring a stable, predictable and transparent business environment, thereby helping CARIFORUM attract foreign investments and integrate at the regional level and with the global economy. It will improve the access of firms to competitive goods and services which, in turn, will increase their own competitiveness,” Ambassador Amadei stated.

The CARIFORUM-EU EPA’s establishment was facilitated through the 2000 signing of the Cotonou Agreement, which replaced four successive Lomé accords.  The facility puts in place a comprehensive framework for ACP-EU relations, centred on economic development, the reduction and eventual eradication of poverty, and the smooth and gradual integration of ACP states into the global economy.

With a view to achieving these objectives, the Cotonou Agreement makes provision for the ACP and EU to engage in World Trade Organization (WTO) compatible trading arrangements.

In this vein, Article 36 of the Cotonou Agreement commits the Parties to conclude new WTO compatible trading arrangements, removing, progressively, barriers to trade between them and enhancing co-operation in all areas relevant to trade.

The EPA Capacity Building Project is intended to create an enabling environment to support increased compliance of Jamaican agriculture and agribusiness exports, with international quality standards, to EU and other markets. This, by strengthening the capacity of infrastructures supporting the country’s export sector.

The initiative is designed to enhance food security and enhance Jamaica’s competitiveness goals, as outlined in the National Export Strategy (NES), and the country’s National Development Plan, Vision 2030 Jamaica, being administered by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).