Senior representatives of the government, the opposition political parties, the trade union movement, the private sector, religious bodies and other non-governmental organizations unanimously called on regional leaders not to sign it in its present form.
As matters stand, Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Belize, The Bahamas and St Vincent have said that they want to sign; St Lucia says it will not; Guyana is holding a public consultation; Grenada wants more time; and there is silence from almost all other Cariforum states. Meanwhile, some opposition parties have publicly disassociated themselves, most notably, in Jamaica and Antigua.
Latin American businessmen have long been lobbying for free trade agreements with the EU.
A senior European Union diplomat in Kingston warned Wednesday that Caribbean countries that fail to sign a trade pact the region negotiated with EU by the October 31 deadline will lose preferential access for their product into the European market.
Eight months after congratulating themselves for having become the first region within the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) grouping to conclude negotiations with the European Union on a new trade and economic pact, Caribbean leaders are getting cold feet as the time draws near to affix their signatures to the document.
A day after Caricom chairman Baldwin Spencer proposed September 8 for the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) the Observer has learnt that the pact is now unlikely to be signed before either September 12 or September 19.
The EU is currently negotiating FTAs with Central America, the Andean Community of Nations and Mercosur. Its objective is to use these agreements to complete the privatisation process, to remove restrictions on European property and activity in the region, to acquire full access to natural resources and to obtain guarantees that European companies will be able to operate with clear advantages over national companies. Moreover, all these concessions granted to European companies are to be protected from any political changes that the peoples of the region might want to undertake in the future.
On Sept. 2, 2008, some Caribbean countries will be signing an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union which is not fair and which, over time, may well return Caribbean countries to a state of “plantation economies” where the commanding heights are owned by foreign companies run by expatriate managers, and Caribbean people are merely workers.
They failed us! That’s what governments, intellectuals and trade unions in CARIFORUM (CARICOM and the Dominican Republic) who negotiated the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union did to this region, says James Paul, of the Barbados Agricultural Society.
There are new uncertainties surrounding the proposed signing of the full Economic Partnership Agreement on September 2 between the European Union and CARIFORUM - the Caribbean Community member states and the Dominican Republic.
A former chief negotiator for the region said it is not too late for Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries to pull out of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Europe.
The Caribbean could suffer economically if a proposed free trade agreement between several regional countries and the European Union is signed because of damaging flaws in the deal, according to Bharrat Jagdeo, Guyana’s president. “Europe negotiated in bad faith. We were bullied into this.”
In the light of the ongoing debate on the economic partnership agreement (EPA), the Jamaican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade has released a chronology of the CARIFORUM EC/EPA negotiations
Jamaica enacted legislation for the protection of GIs through the Protection of Geographical Indications Act of 2004. However, protection under the law strictly complies with the standards laid out in the TRIPS Agreement and does not contemplate the "TRIPS plus" and "TRIPS extra" elements incorporated in the EPA.
The Barbados Association of NGOs (BANGO) is seeking 5 000 signatures for a petition calling on Government to work out a better Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Europe.
Analyses the Cariforum-EC EPA from a critical standpoint, including the EPA architecture, what each side gets from the Agreement, the scope of binding commitments, the institutional machinery and the scope for revision of the Agreement. The points are illustrated with direct quotations from the EPA text.
The ACP countries, by opening up their markets freely to European goods, services and companies will be transformed into a state of development via an impressive chain of unproven, theoretical assumptions. The EPA itself is replete with development rhetoric and references to the development objectives of the Agreement, most, if not all, of which are compromised by the content of the Agreement itself. Nowhere in the Agreement is there a direct, targeted attack on the basic supply-side problem, let alone binding commitments to put in place a complement of measures aimed at this problem.
It has become patently evident that the European Union is taking the Caribbean for a ride over the Economic Partnership Agreement initialled last December. The Caribbean has to stop the ride and renegotiate the deeply troubling aspects of the EPA before any signing takes place.
Regional trade unionists have called for a review and renegotiation of the recently initiated Economic Partnership Agreement, negotiated between the EU and the Caribbean Forum countries, Caribbean Community member states and the Dominican Republic.
On Thursday June 12, organizations from around the region staged a protest against the EU-Caribbean Economic Partnership Agreement in front of White Hall, the prime minister’s office in Trinidad.