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EPA in spotlight at Caribbean Exporters’ Colloquium

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Wednesday, 03 April 2013

EPA in spotlight at Caribbean Exporters’ Colloquium

The CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) was described as “one of the most ambitious contemporary attempts at promoting regional integration processes,”  by the Director-General of the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) Directorate in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Ivan Ogando Lora, at the opening of the Caribbean Exporters’ Colloquium 2013, organized by the Caribbean Export Development Agency, in Bridgetown, Barbados from March 20 to 21.
The Colloquium forms part of and is the capstone activity of the inaugural Caribbean Export Week, which ran from March 17 to 22 under the theme ‘Promoting Regional Trade, Export Development and Investment’.  The event provided an opportunity for a cross-section of key stakeholders to examine the status of the ‘regional export platform’. In large, through a dialogue and exchange between participants and policy makers, trade policy practitioners and business persons, on the most effective ways in which the region can seek to increase exports and achieve deeper market penetration in both traditional and non-traditional markets, the event aimed to reach a  consensus on the priority sectors that could be the focus of a viable regional export strategy.

Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, put the onus for making the EPA work for the region squarely at the feet of the regional private sector, underscoring in her feature address that “Our business persons must be innovative in their thinking”. She encouraged to focus attention on a regional export strategy, of which an action plan would form a critical part.

The EPA was signed by fourteen CARIFORUM States in October 2008 and by the fifteenth CARIFORUM States, and Haiti, in December 2009. The Agreement is being provisionally applied since 29 December 2008.