Define the Economic Partnership Agreement and Discuss the Ways in Which Businesses in the Caribbean Should Organize to Take Advantage of This Development.

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It is important that we examine precisely the provisions that will be available to the Caribbean Countries, as this will strengthen our discussions on ways in which businesses in the Caribbean should organize themselves to take advantage of the Economic Partnership Agreement.

Norman Girvan’s article “Implications of the CARIFORUM-EC EPA, examined the provisions, state that the EPA was a trade agreement with development components designed to open-up and develop trade between Europe and CARIFORUM, removing the barriers to trade between them and by means of improving CARIFORUM’s capacity to trade competitively.

Listed below is a summary of the actual agreement and intended objectives in which Caribbean countries could take advantage of the developments leading to the EPA.

a.Contributing to the reduction and eventual eradication of poverty through the establishment of a trade partnership consistent with the objective of sustainable development, the Millennium Development Goals and the Cotonou Agreement;

b.Promoting regional integration, economic cooperation and good governance thus establishing and implementing an effective, predictable and transparent regulatory framework for trade and investment between the Parties and in the CARIFORUM region;

c.Promoting the gradual integration of the CARIFORUM States into the world economy, in accordance with their political choices and development priorities;

d.Improving the CARIFORUM States' capacity in trade policy and trade related issues;

e.Supporting the conditions for increasing investment and private sector initiative and enhancing supply capacity, competitiveness and economic growth in the CARIFORUM region;

f.Strengthening the existing relations between the Parties on the basis of solidarity and mutual interest. To this end, taking into account their respective levels of development and consistent with WTO obligations, the Agreement shall enhance commercial and economic relations, support a new trading dynamic between the Parties by means of the progressive, asymmetrical liberalization of trade between them and reinforce, broaden and deepen cooperation in all areas relevant to trade and investment.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding in his address on Monday, March 10, 2008, on the Caribbean’s need to take advantage of Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), noted that “he wants to see Caribbean companies coming together in joint ventures because each country acting independently will not be able to penetrate the European markets nor be able to achieve the levels of efficiency that will allow each country to get into that market and to dominate it.” He is of the view that the European Partnership Agreement (EPA) will provide a challenge to which the region must respond”.

Prime Minister Golding felt that Caricom countries could now look at investors across the world and invite them to invest in their country in order to get into the European market-duty free, quota free. He pointed out that the signing of this agreement was an ideal opportunity to attract foreign investment. As stated above by the Prime Minister, one of the ways in which Caribbean countries can capitalize on the EPA is through collective joint ventures, which would garner the level of efficiency, expertise needed and further strengthen their bargaining power within the European Market. The purpose of the EPAs is to act as an instrument of development which should serve to contribute to the promotion of gradual and systematic integration of the ACP states in world economy. In this regard, each country’s political options and development priorities should be respected; in addition, the promotion of sustainable development as well as the contribution to the eradication of poverty in the ACP states should be key components and not an end in themselves.

Caribbean producers currently are not able to compete on a level playing field with European producers. The Caribbean market has to...
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