St Kitts and Nevis seeking an extension on EPA deadlines

BASSETERRE, St Kitts and Nevis, Thursday, September 27, 2012 – The St. Kitts-Nevis government remains concerned that it could come out worse off if it starts to implement duty free access for European goods coming into the federation and it is seeking an extension in implementing certain measures under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) that it and other Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) countries signed with Europe in 2008.

This was revealed by Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas during a recent interview on Winn FM radio.

“We would always be mindful of our international obligations and in bilateral and multilateral situations involving the EPA,” Dr. Douglas said, adding “what I would say is that before we can just simply and dramatically hurt ourselves the appropriate economic analysis will have to be done.

“There are opportunities and …to engage in dialogue for addressing the question of prolonging some of those things that we have to do on our side,” he said.
Dr. Douglas said that the twin-island federation would be approaching the European Union (EU) on the issue.

The CARIFORUM countries (the Caribbean Community plus the Dominica Republic) made a reciprocal agreement under the EPA for the removal of tariffs and import duties on goods traded between European and CARIFORUM countries.

However, St Kitts and Nevis is among the eight Caribbean countries that have not yet removed tariffs from goods coming into the country from the EU.

“Naturally we would be very concerned about the loss of revenue from the tariff that we would normally collect and we make sure as we implement these we find other ways to make up the shortfall in revenue,” Dr Douglas said.

“We just can’t say we doing it and hurt ourselves without knowing how we are going to have the appropriate corrective measures introduced,” he said.

With the exception of the Caribbean, six other regional blocs in the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group have yet to conclude full regional EPAs since discussions began in 2002 and the EU recently agreed to extend the deadline for concluding EPAs with the rest of the bloc to January 1, 2016.

Issues of concern that have delayed the process include the time frame in which ACP markets must be opened up to free trade with Europe, the extent of goods and services to be liberalised, rules and requirements for goods to enter Europe, export taxes, and numerous other key clauses in the agreements. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)