Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, Head of the EU Delegation,
Ms. Diana Acconcia and her team from the European Commission
Mr. Percival Marie, Director General, CARIFORUM Directorate
Representatives of the CARIFORUM Member States;
Ladies and Gentlemen
As CARIFORUM High Representative for the CARIFORUM/EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), I welcome you all here to this 6th Technical Meeting of the CARIFORUM/EU Trade and Development Committee (TDC), which is the second highest of the EPA institutions, after the Joint CARIFORUM/EU Council.
The Declaration made on the signing of the EPA, provided for a Review of the Agreement no later than five years after signature. This review was intended to determine the impact of the Agreement “including costs and consequences of implementation”.
In that context, the Third Meeting of the Joint CARIFORUM-EU Council met in Guyana on 16th July 2015 to undertake the first formal review of the EPA.
The Five Year Review concluded that the EPA had not yet had the anticipated impact on overall trade between CARIFORUM and the EU. Among the major findings of the Five Year Review were:
1. The need for further work to be undertaken on the revenue implications of the EPA;
2. The performance of trade in goods was mixed with some CARIFORUM countries actually experiencing a decline in levels of trade with the EU;
3. The investment and trade in services provisions had not yielded the benefits originally anticipated;
4. The Protocol on Cultural Cooperation needed to be activated;
5. Development Cooperation needed to be increased in the critical areas of monitoring, innovation and research, intellectual property, trade in services, customs and trade facilitation, cultural industries and private sector development;
6. The financing requirements for EPA implementation were considerable; and
7. A system for continuous monitoring is required.
Both CARIFORUM and the EU agreed that attention needed to be paid to institutional capacity, built-in constraints of the EPA, and, more importantly, CARIFORUM supply side constraints.
The Fourth Meeting of the Joint CARIFORUM-EU Council is likely to take place in Brussels in July 2017. We are, therefore, at the point where we need to take further stock of progress made in the implementation of the EPA and the realisation of its benefits. On the basis of that stocktaking, we must plan some focused and targeted actions which will enable us to have measurable and quantifiable benefits from the implementation of the EPA.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This TDC Meeting is the second high level joint EPA meeting between CARIFORUM and the EU since July 2015. It will advise the Joint Council on action taken and results achieved in the implementation of the EPA since 2015. For this reason, I am pleased to observe a range of important topics on the Agenda of this meeting, particularly those relating to the effective management of trade in services:
• Establishing the Special Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries;
• Tariff Liberalisation;
• Application of the Octroi de Mer;
• Mutual Recognition Agreements for Services;
• Tourism and Related Sectors;
• Cross Border Supply of Services;
• Temporary Presence of Natural Persons;
• Establishment of a Special Committee on Trade in Services;
• Geographic Indicators;
• Transfer of Technology;
• Cultural Cooperation;
• Monitoring; and
• Development Cooperation.
It is essential therefore that all of these agenda items be addressed in a manner which will yield sustained results over time if the EPA, as a trade and development instrument, is to make a tangible contribution to growth and development in the Caribbean.
At the same time, it is important for the TDC to put in place mechanisms to ensure sustainable action on all of these subject areas. In our view, an annual meeting at the senior technical level, is not sufficient to address these critical issues. A consistent process of follow-up between meetings is essential, especially in the absence of the joint bodies of Five Year Review Task Force, such as the Special Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries, the Special Committee on Customs and Trade Facilitation and the proposed Special Committee on Services.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As a region, CARIFORUM needs continuous support in building both public and private sector capacities if it is to take advantage of trade and investment opportunities, which could be created through the EPA. This is even more necessary given the reciprocal nature of the Agreement and the asymmetrical capacities of the EU and CARIFORUM. For this reason, the €24 million for Trade and Private Sector Development under the 11th EDF Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme is particularly welcomed.
Also contributing to capacity-building in CARIFORUM will be the resources under the 11th EDF to be assigned to the OECS; to CARICOM; to the Haiti/DR Bi-national Programme; and to focused EPA implementation support.
CARIFORUM is deeply appreciative of the support provided by the EU. As we endeavour to achieve economic growth and sustainable development, we hope that we can continue to rely on that support from the EU, its individual Member States and other Development Partners.
We further hope that in providing such support, the EU will take account of our peculiar vulnerabilities as many of us are Highly Indebted Middle Income Countries and Small Island Developing States.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I cannot end this statement without reference to Brexit – the exit of the UK from the EU. Effectively, Brexit means a reduction in the size of the market for goods and services, which CARIFORUM originally negotiated with the EU. The impact on the provisions of the Agreement will therefore need to be considered. CARIFORUM States will clearly also need to increase market presence in the EU27. There will have to be greater emphasis on penetrating these markets in a post Brexit situation. This will require focussed trade and investment promotion activities. I would wish the TDC to begin to focus on the required actions even though the date of the UK exit is not certain at this point. In any case, we needed to expand our reach into the EU markets with or without Brexit as a catalyst.
I take this opportunity to express my wish for fruitful outcomes from this TDC meeting.
In my role of CARIFORUM High Representative for the EPA, I look forward to receiving a Report which I can share with my CARIFORUM Ministerial colleagues. I am hoping that this report can form the basis for action to ensure that the people of the Caribbean can reap positive benefits from the implementation of the CARIFORUM/EU Economic Partnership Agreement.
For us in CARIFORUM, trade makes a critical contribution to achieving sustained growth and to creating jobs. In the current global environment, it is necessary to demonstrate that trade agreements can deliver benefits for all signatories and for all sectors of the economies.
Have a successful meeting and a pleasant stay in Jamaica. It is our pleasure to have you all here in Kingston.