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JIS News

Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, has said that there are some “fundamental issues” which stand in the way of CARICOM reaching an agreement with the European Union for a successor to the Cotonou Agreement.
He was speaking to JIS News in Montego Bay on (Oct. 3), where the special meeting of CariForum Heads of Government and European Union (EU) Commissioners is taking place.
According to the Prime Minister, there is a will and a genuine desire within CARICOM to solve those issues before December 31, when the Cotonou Agreement comes to an end. “A lot will depend on the extent to which we are able to resolve those issues,” the Prime Minister stated.
Some of the sticking points, he said, have to do with developmental concerns. “We are in a position to quantify what would be the loss to the Caribbean economies of the requirements for us to open up our markets to European goods, what would be the loss in terms of revenue, not only in terms of custom duties, but in terms of other duties and charges that are applied to goods coming in from Europe,” he outlined.
Prime Minister Golding emphasized that a number of the CARICOM countries, including Jamaica, are in revenue sensitive situations, whereby they cannot afford to surrender any form of revenue unless some form of counterbalancing situation is in place.
“The other thing too is that most of the Caribbean countries are import dependent. We depend heavily on taxes that are applied to those imports, and therefore in looking at the challenges that we have to face.we are going to have to insist that there must be a development component that can enable the Caribbean economies to pursue alternative sources of economic activity, development and revenue, in order not to end up with our people, instead of being assisted and empowered by this agreement, to find that they are further impoverished,” he stated.
Negotiations have been ongoing between the two sides for an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) to be in place by January 2008.