JIS News

Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Ronald Robinson has said that while it is recognized that the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and CARIFORUM countries may not be perfect, a realistic and pragmatic approach to its implementation is being taken.
He explained that the debate surrounding the EPA has not addressed the particular issue of what the viable alternatives to the agreement are.
“There have been no clear answers to this question. The European Commission (EC) indicated that the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, in the absence of the EPA, would then have to revert to trading under the EC’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) or at the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) level as of 1st January, 2008,” he pointed out.
Dr. Robinson was making his contribution to the 2008/09 State of the Nation Debate in the Senate on July 18.
The Senator said that the Ministry undertook its own research on the cost of the GSP scheme, and found that exports of alumina, banana, rum, sugar and other products would have attracted well in excess of US$70 million in import duties, “a cost our industries could ill-afford.”
“Therefore, in the light of this reality, and in the absence of viable alternatives, this administration decided to go ahead with the EPA arrangement. Similarly, our other CARIFORUM partners decided to complete the negotiations,” he stated.
The EPA is an instrument of trade partnership required by the Cotonou Agreement to replace the trade component of Lome IV. It is expected that it will help ACP countries, including CARIFORUM, to reduce poverty and achieve economic growth through sustainable trade with Europe.
The European Commission and CARIFORUM initialed the EPA in Barbados on December 16 last year and the agreement is to be ratified shortly. CARIFORUM consists of CARICOM countries, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

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