EPA Proposes Level Playing Field for Tourism Stakeholders


The proposed regulatory framework governing tourism-related services, as agreed to by the European Union and Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) states, seeks to provide a level playing field for participation by all legitimate stakeholders and interests, regardless of the dimension of their operations.
As outlined in the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the parties shall introduce or maintain appropriate measures aimed at prohibiting or discouraging anti-competitive practices, which could influence the terms of participation by all interests. These practices, include, inter alia, abuse of dominant positions through the imposition of unfair prices, exclusivity clauses, refusal to deal, tied sales, quantity restrictions or vertical integration. Accordingly, the parties shall endeavour to facilitate the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises.
In recognition of the need to increase the impact of tourism on sustainable development, the EPA outlines that the signatories shall encourage participation of CARIFORUM service suppliers in international, regional, sub-regional, bilateral, and private financing programmes in order to achieve the objectives.
Regarding environmental and quality standards within the sector, the signatories agree to encourage compliance accordingly, in a reasonable and objective manner, without unnecessary barriers to trade being brought to bear. Further, that they shall endeavour to facilitate the participation of signatory CARIFORUM states in relevant international organizations, setting the requisite environmental and quality standards applicable to the provision of tourism services.
In light of inherent asymmetries pertaining to the parties’ respective levels of development, and subject to Article 7 of the agreement, the signatories agree to cooperate by facilitating support in several areas. These include upgrading of national accounting systems with a view to facilitating the introduction of Tourism Satellite Accounts (TSA) at the regional and local levels.
Other areas proposed for cooperative support include: capacity building for environmental management in tourism areas at regional and local levels; development of Internet marketing strategies for the sector’s small and medium-sized enterprises; mechanisms to facilitate and ensure effective participation of signatory CARIFORUM states in international standard setting bodies focused on sustainable tourism standards development; programmes to ensure equivalency between national, regional, and international standards for sustainable tourism; and programmes aimed at increasing the level of compliance with sustainable tourism standards by regional tourism suppliers.
It has also been agreed that tourism exchange programmes and training, will be facilitated for tourism services providers.
The signatories also agree to share and exchange experiences, information, and best practices and also to consult on issues relevant to trade in tourism services-related matters. To this end, a Joint Committee will undertake the development of modalities to facilitate this process.
The agreement also directs the parties to invite private and other relevant stakeholders to participate in this dialogue on the relevant areas applicable. Further, that where the need for the issuance of travel advisories arises, that regular dialogue take place between the parties.

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