EPA not a 'trojan horse' that will swamp the Caribbean says EU official
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday December 27, 2012 – A senior European Union official says the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed with the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORM) countries in 2008, should not be described as a “Trojan Horse” that would swamp the region.
Head of the European Union Delegation to Jamaica, Belize, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Cayman Islands, Ambassador Paola Amadei, said there were many misconceptions about the accord that would allow for the establishment of a free trade area (FTA) between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP).
She said most of the misconceptions include the belief that the EPA will result in significant loss of revenue in what is deemed an “already difficult context” and that the facility would be an “instrument of inequitable struggle” between the EU and CARIFORUM.
“To this I…reply that the EPA is a call for a new dynamic approach towards globalization and that…can contribute to setting the Caribbean economies on the right track to seize opportunities created by globalization.
“The EPA, and globalization itself, imposes (on) Jamaica and…the Caribbean region, structural reforms linked to good governance, regional integration, and (a) business environment…reforms that are needed, with or without the EPA,” she said.
CARIFORM includes the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping and the Dominican Republic and the EU official said that the EPA is “directly oriented towards increasing investments in the region, to the full benefit of enterprises, employment, and, thus, national wealth”.
Ambassador Amadei contended that, against this background, there is no need for Jamaica to remain in the lower tier of the doing business and competitiveness rankings, noting that the creation of an environment conducive to the development of trade and investment, is a catalyst for leveraging growth in the country.
“Conducting reforms to improve the business environment, the management of public finances and deepening regional integration are objectives within reach .This is the main contribution of the EPA. (The) EPA’s rational is to help create a turning point where trade spurts growth and development,” she said.
The diplomat noted that since the establishment of the EPA in 2008, it has served as the basis of the trading relationship between the EU and that body.
“All in all, the EPA is a driver for change and much needed reforms. It aims at, ultimately, ensuring a stable, predictable and transparent business environment, thereby helping CARIFORUM attract foreign investments and integrate at the regional level and with the global economy. It will improve the access of firms to competitive goods and services which, in turn, will increase their own competitiveness,” she added.
The EU recently signed a J$240.7 million (€2.25 million) EPA Capacity Building Project intended to create an enabling environment to support increased compliance of Jamaican agriculture and agribusiness exports, with international quality standards, to EU and other markets.
The initiative is designed to enhance food security and enhance Jamaica’s competitiveness goals, as outlined in the National Export Strategy (NES), and the country’s National Development Plan, Vision 2030 Jamaica, being administered by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ). (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)