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Demystifying the EPA

Caribbean not taking advantage of EU markets

By Richard Charan

Four years after the signing of the CARIFORM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the pace of its implementation has been slow, with business far from taking advantage of the favourable trade provisions meant to benefit countries of the Caribbean, Africa and the Pacific.

In an effort to demystify the complex agreement and get the word out to potential investors, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat-based Implementation Unit yesterday convened a two day regional media workshop.

The workshop is meant to educate media workers on the status of the EPA and how businesses can and have benefited from the agreement, which was signed by 17 European Union members and 15 CARIFORUM States (CARICOM and the Dominican Republic, and has seen regional exporters secure duty free, quota free access to markets access to markets of the EU for almost all products.

Held at the Rex Resorts, Grenada, the workshop is being hosted in collaboration with the Caribbean Export Development Agency, German Development Agency (GIZ), and the Grenada National (EPA) Implementation Unit.

The EPA covers areas including market access, services and investments, trade related issues, legal and institutional issues and development coorperation.

Trinidad and Tobago is not among the five that have ratified the agreement, with the legislation yet to go to Parliament for debate.
However, the Ministry of Trade last year set up a Trade Implementation Unit related to the EPA.

Between February 27 and May 7 this year, the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce went on a trade mission to Europe to explore the potential arising out of the EPA. The Chamber reported promising opportunities, but Chamber president Catherine Kumar said then that a study had shown there was little knowledge of the EPA and EU markets.

Yesterday's workshop heard from Grenada's Minister of Finance, Planning, Economy, Energy, and Cooperatives Nizam Burke, Manager Trade and Export at the Caribbean Export Development Agency David Gomez, advisor to the GIZ Elise Whitehouse, the CARICOM Secretariat's Nand Bardouille and Grenada' Implementation Coordinator Desmond John.
The workshop concludes today.

- CCN Multimedia Editor Richard Charan is in Grenada attending the workshop.

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