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Monday, 08 October 2012

Doubts Linger About Caribbean-EU Trade Pact

P.J. Patterson, the former Jamaican prime minister, has had a long relationship with the European Union. During his tenure as his country’s foreign minister, he served as president of the African, Caribbean and Pacific -European Union (ACP-EU) Ministerial Council and led negotiations for the ACP group with the EU. He also played a pivotal role in forging an agreement on the basic framework for the original Lome Convention that was signed in 1975. At the second Caribbean Academy for Law and Court Administration (CALCA) lecture on “International Law, World Trade Organization (WTO) – Interface with the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), Patterson pointed out some "startling differences” between the negotiating framework and outcomes, previously outlined for Lomé and EPA which was concluded in 2008.
While in most nations the application of the agreement is “currently provisional”, Patterson said, even the least “sceptical person or most difficult juror to persuade” must by now realise that the determination of EU to create regional EPAs was for one single purpose. According to Patterson, storm clouds have begun to appear, making references to the rate and pace of tariff adjustments in the face of existing budgetary requirements and tight fiscal constraints; the absence of funding obligations as part of EPA that were reflected in the European Development Fund (EDF) as part of the Cotonou Agreement, and what he refers to as “an area of great potential – services” while asking the question “who will really qualify for access from the Caribbean?".
Patterson said the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will need to address without further delay “such issues as investment, competition policy and government procurement to avert the danger of undertaking obligations or conferring rights on others that do not yet exist within the Community but already fall within the framework of the EPA”.
According to the joint statement issued at the end of the CARIFORUM-EU meeting last weekend, the committee crafted a number of joint decisions for adoption by the Second Meeting of the Joint CARIFORUM-EU Council (JC), which will be held in Brussels on 26 October. But the statement also noted that “while there was agreement on submitting certain items for endorsement by the JC, some issues will be subject to further negotiations as they were not resolved”. The statement noted that with respect to development cooperation, CARIFORUM reiterated its commitment to regional cooperation and integration, and that projects have been identified with respect to 82 percent of resources under the Regional Indicative Programme of the 10th EDF.
Source: Inter Press Service