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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Caribbean exports fall under European deal

Caricom exports to the EU have declined, with Jamaica making the biggest retreat from the European market since gaining duty-free and quota-free access there nearly five years ago, say trade experts.
"We have had market access for years and what the data shows is that the terms for that market access have not led to enough sustainable growth for our firms," said Lincoln Price, private sector liaison at the Office of Trade Negotiations of the Caricom Secretariat, quoted by the he Jamaica Observer.
Price, added that Caricom has not sufficiently produced value-added products, which are critical for export competitiveness: "We are essentially involved in a commodity-based approach to competitiveness, where we compete not necessarily on doing anything creative; our economies are still competing based on our natural endowments of gold, bauxite, forestry reserves, petroleum and natural gas."
David Gomez, manager of trade and export at the Caribbean Export Development Agency, suggested that businesses need to put more focus in areas where the region is more competitive, such as the creative and services industries.
But despite the slow pace of penetration for Caribbean businesses into Europe, there are some success stories. Baron Food Limited, a sauces and condiments manufacturer, ships over 250,000 cartons to Europe annually and has grown significantly since the EPA. Principal of Baron, Chris Persad, noted that the EPA provides an opportunity for Caribbean companies with or without prior presence in the European market. "We have already established a presence in London. What the EPA does is give us an opportunity to set up a factory in England and compete on a local scale because the market is open to both your skilled force and the capital equipment to come and invest," said Persad.
The Cariforum group of countries (Caricom and the Dominican Republic) concluded negotiations with the European Union (EU) in December 2007 for the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which liberalised Europe's markets for the region's exports in goods and services, and replaced the preferential trade arrangement that governed Caricom-EU trade for decades.The EPA is a reciprocal agreement — Cariforum has 25 years to fully liberalise its markets to the EU.

Source: Jamaica Observer