Europe-Caribbean trade agreement underused
EPA framework can improve investment flow says CARICOM study, but faces low investor awareness.
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Thursday March 22, 2012 - The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) provides a comprehensive framework to improve the flow of investments between the two regions.
This is according to a new report commissioned by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat-based EPA Implementation Unit.
The report offered a review of the legal framework in CARIFORUM states with respect to investment and the flow of investment between CARIFORUM states and the EU for consistency with their commitments in international agreements.
While some of the findings were encouraging, they were tempered by some stark assessments with respect to the EPA. Of note, the report underscored that there is little awareness of the EPA/Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) tied advantages among the private sector in CARIFORUM states and within the EU. It was found that this lack of knowledge extended to EU investors as well.
Particular note was made that the legal framework of CARIFORUM states is in need of harmonisation to cope with the FDI commitments of the EPA. The 15 CARIFORUM states that are signatory to the EPA are the independent CARICOM member states and the Dominican Republic. With respect to national legislation pertaining to foreign investment, asymmetries were revealed in their respective legal systems and the level of regulation that needs to be addressed in order to create a reliable framework for investors. Government bureaucracy and the lack of a common policy among CARIFORUM states on investment promotion were also cited as areas of concern.
In the main, the report’s recommendations dealt with ways of addressing deficiencies, as set out in some of the findings. These include the call to increase awareness of the EPA, as well as its commitments and advantages, among the business community through: education; sharing of best practices; showcasing successful regional FDI models; and implementing a methodology to collect and process statistical information on FDI in CARIFORUM states.
The CARICOM Secretariat stated that advancing the recommendations is a top priority for the EPA Implementation Unit and they expected to achieve an improved climate and flow of investment from the EU to CARIFORUM.
“Having a better appreciation of the realities in states is crucial to making decisions to ensure that the benefits to be derived under the agreement are obtained,” said the regional unit’s Trade in Services and Investment Specialist, Allyson Francis.
She further stated, “The findings are enlightening and form a good basis to better focus our minds on the task at hand, which is improving the investment climate and the flow of investment between the EU and CARIFORUM”.