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Little progress on EU-Caribbean EPA

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Monday, 21 November 2011

Little progress on EU-Caribbean EPA

In 2008, the EU concluded its first Economic Partnership Agreement with a group of member states’ former colonies. So far, this agreement has not made much progress. […]

Cariforum, so far, is the only regional organisation to have signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU). The EPA will come into force once all member countries have ratified it. Until then, Cariforum and the EU have pledged to provisionally apply the EPA. It was agreed in October 2008. […]

The EPA has hardly made progress so far. There are several reasons, including diverging opinions and even clashes among Cariforum members on the one hand and lack of action on behalf of the EU on the other. According to Junior Lodge, the technical coordinator for the CARICOM Office of Trade Negotiations, there are several major implementation bottlenecks, including

– the lack of human resources, funding and political will,
– the lack of coherence between EPA implementation and other economic policymaking in general (including multilateral trade negotiations) and
– the lack of dynamism in the regional integration process.

Cariforum is challenged by deep and unresolved differences between Caricom and the Dominican Republic. The process of EPA implementation, moreover, has proven to be inefficient and fastidious, requiring regular meetings of the Joint Council of EU and Cariforum. To attend these meetings at government level, Cariforum countries depend on support from the European Development Fund (EDF).

To date, only five Cariforum countries – Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Guyana and St. Kitts and Nevis – have started reducing their tariffs. The others are still preparing for such steps. Only Barbados, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica have set up EPA implementation units.

Source: inwent.org