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Thursday, 28 November 2013

Caribbean and EU reaffirm commitment to trade and development partnership

CARIFORUM and European Union (EU) trade officials held a one-day meeting in Grenada on Thursday 21 November, at which they reaffirmed the two regions' commitment to their close trade and development partnership. The two sides discussed progress made so far in putting the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) into practice. The EPA aims to promote trade and investment, underpin regional integration, and foster sustainable development. The EPA is now in its fifth year of implementation, and this was the third annual meeting of a body which it establishes, the CARIFORUM-EU Trade and Development Committee (TDC).
Officials focussed on involving civil society in EPA implementation, trade in agriculture, and monitoring the EPA. They discussed the involvement of civil society, which will have its own Consultative Committee under the EPA. On agriculture, they launched talks on measures to promote and protect Geographical Indications (GIs) – such as Blue Mountain coffee from Jamaica or Roquefort cheese from France. The regular monitoring and review of the EPA was also on the agenda, with discussion of the first five-yearly review, due for completion in 2014, and the creation of a long-term mechanism to monitor the EPA's results.
The Head of the European Union's Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Ambassador Mikael Barfod highlighted the EU's ongoing development assistance to help Caribbean governments and businesses put the EPA into practice and exploit its opportunities.
"Making the EPA work for people across the Caribbean is our shared responsibility.  And it's an important one, given the hopes and aspirations inherent in the agreement - promoting trade and investment, underpinning regional integration, and fostering sustainable development," EU trade official Remco Vahlsaid.
Talks focussed on involving civil society in the EPA process, trade in agriculture, and monitoring the EPA. Officials discussed the involvement of civil society, which will have its own Consultative Committee under the EPA.  On agriculture, they launched talks on measures to promote and protect Geographical Indications (GIs) – such as Blue Mountain coffee from Jamaica or Rocquefort cheese from France. The regular monitoring and review of the EPA was also on the agenda, with discussion of the first five-yearly review, due for completion in 2014, and the creation of a long-term mechanism to monitor the EPA's results.
The EPA trade and development partnership was signed in 2008 by the 15 States that make up CARIFORUM and the EU. Its goals are simple - to make it easier for people and businesses from the two regions to invest in and trade with each other, and to boost growth across the Caribbean.
The EPA has three main features. Firstly, it introduces asymmetric reciprocity in trade between the CARIFORUM States and Europe. But it also reflects the current level of development in the Caribbean, and the region's specific characteristics and challenges.
The EPA also covers trade in a much wider sense than the rules that came before it. It covers not just goods but also services – the backbone of modern economies – and areas where rules and regulations can help promote trade: competition, innovation and intellectual property, public procurement, and environmental and labour standards.

Source: Caricom, European Commission, EINnews.com, Anguillanews.com

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