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Professionals across 29 sectors in Caribbean firms (Contractual Service Suppliers), will be able to work temporarily in European states, under the Services and Establishment Section of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union (EU) and CARIFORUM.
They are subject to conditions stipulated in the EPA, and the stays can be granted to eligible individuals for up to 90 days out of a calendar year. In addition, the EU has liberalized 11 sectors for temporary entry by independent professionals, or self-employed persons. All such persons must be a natural citizen of the CARIFORUM states.
Although there are some conditions in some European states, there is no limit on the amount of service that suppliers can enter into the EU market. This is a critical concession by the EU to CARIFORUM, since the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and in other bilateral Free Trade Areas (FTA), the EU does not have temporary market access commitments of this kind.
As it relates to entertainment services, an area in which the Caribbean is competitive, 25 European states will liberalize their entertainment services with some limitations in two states.
According to a brief prepared by the Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM), this level of market access for this industry is a first for any trade agreement of the EU. Under the EPA, the activities that are being liberalized include the range of artists and cultural practitioners in music, dance, theatre, visual arts, as well as sculptors, poets, and authors, among others.
Although the provision is subject to some conditions, there are no limits on the number of natural CARIFORUM persons who can enter under this commitment.
Caribbean musicians, artists and other cultural practitioners and their crews who are registered under businesses, will be able to send their members or employees to almost all EU states to provide entertainment services.
This aspect of market access is complemented by a historic Protocol on Cultural Co-operation, which provides for greater co-operation on all cultural fronts, with special provisions on audio-visual.
Particularly, co-produced audio-visual products and services involving European and Caribbean creative teams will qualify as European works and therefore must meet the cultural content rules in all states. When co-production treaties are completed between individual EU states and Caribbean states or region, it will be possible for Caribbean audio-visual producers to access funding for creative projects.
Furthermore, under this Protocol, artists and other cultural practitioners (who are not involved in commercial activities in the EU), will be able to stay in Europe for periods of up to 90 days in any 12-month period. Previous EU trade agreements had almost no cultural co-operation. Therefore, the CARIFORUM-EU agreement the first to have comprehensive provisions that allow for movement of artists, musicians and other cultural practitioners, who can develop contacts that can eventually lead to commercial contracts.
Of importance is the fact that if Caribbean traders, investors or business persons find that officials in individual EU states renege on their commitments, or make it too difficult for them to enter their jurisdiction, they can be challenged, under the dispute settlement provisions of the Protocol. The EPA seeks to create a free trade area between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. CARIFORUM countries form part of the ACP group. The EPA is a key element of the Cotonou Agreement, the latest agreement in the history of ACP-EU Development Co-operation, and is to be effected this year.
The agreement seeks to create sustainable development of the ACP States, their smooth and gradual integration in the world market, and eradication of poverty. Specifically, sustainable growth will be enhanced; production and supply capacity increased; and structural processing and economic diversification of ACP states promoted, while supporting regional integration.