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Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Changing trade patterns threaten Caribbean

Almost unnoticed, a development has occurred in Africa’s negotiations for their Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) with Europe that could result in increased levels of foreign investment in the Caribbean and Overseas Territories. […] What has been tabled in the African EPA negotiations significantly extends what Europe is prepared to accept by way of cumulation using inputs from third nations. Although this has not, nor will be formally extended to Cariforum, it appears that if the European Commission is requested by Cariforum to offer the same treatment, this is likely to be agreed by Europe. Without going fully into the technical details, the texts allow under certain conditions EPA signatory nations to cumulate with other countries which have duty-free quota-free access to the EU market through the generalized system of preferences and on a case by case basis with countries linked to the EU by a free trade agreement for products which enter duty-free and quota-free. Significantly the texts allow African EPA signatory nations to use as originating, materials which are subject to MFN zero duty when imported into the Europe; an offer which would appear to allow the Caribbean, global sourcing of all EU zero rated MFN imported products. What this could mean practically for Cariforum, if a request to Europe is made and accepted, is the sourcing of inputs from Mercosur, Andean and Central American nations once the free trade aspects of their Association Agreements come into force. If Cariforum acts, what is now on offer to Africa could offer new opportunities for Caribbean companies and external investors to make use of the region as a manufacturing or processing base for Europe utilising hemispheric inputs.

Source: Dominican Today