JTI Seminar Explores EU Trade Opportunities for Services Sector


Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI) staged a stakeholder consultation with local private sector service providers on July 2, to clearly explain the technicalities of the EC-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and explore the possible opportunities that exist for trade in services with the European Union.
The over 50 stakeholders in attendance at the forum were presented with valuable insight into the limitations and requirements for EU market access under the EPA, which was signed in 2008 by 14 CARIFORUM countries and 27 countries of the European Commission (EC). The EPA represents the first trade agreement that speaks specifically to the treatment of the services sector.
The event targeted service providers, industry associations, private sector associations, business support organisations, industry experts, opinion leaders and relevant Government employees from the sectors specifically addressed in the agreement. The consultation and panel discussions placed particular emphasis on Information and Communications Technology (ICT), the Creative/Entertainment Industries, Education and Professional Services, which have been identified as priority service sectors for Jamaica under the National Export Strategy (NES).
JTI’s Deputy President, Lisa Bell, who chaired the consultation, noted that despite being recognised as a larger contributor to GDP than the manufacturing sector in all Caribbean economies, the services sector is under-represented in the area of trade facilitation and trade negotiations. This matter was a focal point at the consultation, which facilitated the introduction of the National Coalition of Service Industries (NCSI), as the primary point of contact for local service providers seeking information on the EPA.
Project Manager of the NCSI, Sharon McIntosh, indicated that based on feedback from the key stakeholders, the consultation proved to be highly informative and garnered unanimous support for the future development of the NCSI.
“Going forward, we will be working closely with representatives from the key target industries to assist with the establishment of the NCSI as a key co-ordinating body for matters related to trade in services,” she added.
JTI has been given the mandate to develop and implement the NCSI, which was born out of a 2001 agreement by CARICOM Heads of State that required each member country to establish an umbrella body to act as an advocate for the services sector. In the past six years, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, and Belize, have all launched their respective service coalitions for the formalisation and development of services exports.
The consultation featured presentations by Ms. McIntosh on the NCSI and its link to the National Export Strategy, and head of the Services Trade Unit at the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM), Ramesh Chaitoo, on sector specific information as contained in the EPA Services Business Guide developed by the International Trade Centre (ITC).

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