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Tuesday, 08 January 2013

'No European Trojan Horse'

The European Union defends its Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Caribbean countries, rejecting recent criticism that the free trade agreement will lead to a fallout in regional economies.
In fact, not signing the EPA would have significantly affected EU export earnings for the Caribbean community, valued at more than $30 billion annually in Jamaica alone, said Paola Amadei, head of delegation of the EU to Jamaica, Belize, The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and Cayman Islands.
Speaking at the launch of the EPA Capacity Building Project at the Bureau of Standards Jamaica's office in Kingston, Amadei called for the Caribbean to embrace the EPA as a new dynamic approach to globalisation that can set regional economies on the right track to seize opportunities in the international marketplace.
"The EPA is not an EU Trojan Horse but was proposed to ACP countries as the best WTO compatible alternative, using all flexibility available to accomodate the ACP countries and assure a smooth implementation," she noted.
With regards to the tariff cuts, she argued that the fiscal impact can only be minimal because over half of imports from the EU already entered Cariforum duty-free before the EPA. Furthermore, the terms of the agreement allows up to 20 years to cut the tariffs progressively to the zero rate, up to 20 per cent of tariff lines are excluded and there are safeguard measures to be applied where imports of an EU product cause or even threaten harm to an industry, the EU head of delegation said.
Finally, addressing competition between the EU and Cariforum, Amadei said that the regions produce vastly different goods and therefore do not compete against each other.
On January 1, 2008, the EPA succeeded the preferential Lomé Convention trade regime that governed Euro-Caribbean trade for over three decades, under which the EU allowed former colonies in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) preferential access to its markets and paid them higher than world market prices for their sugar and bananas. But, after complaints from non-ACP farmers, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruled that this was unfair and ordered a regularisation of the trading arrangement.
The Cariforum group of countries (Caricom and the Dominican Republic) concluded negotiations with the EU in December 2007 for the EPA, a reciprocal agreement under which the EU granted duty-free and quota-free access to their markets while Cariforum agreed to liberalise 80 per cent of imports over 15 years and the remaining 20 per cent over 20 and 25 years.


Source: Jamaica Observer