The question must now be asked, just how effective is Caricom, and does it serve any useful purpose? This has proven to be a watershed year for the regional body coming less than two years after the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), prevailing rampant food price, high energy cost and uncontrollable crime, all afflicting the region. Has Caricom address these issues effectively?
Caricom countries remain divided on the issue of the CARIFORUM-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
We are told that the fundamental principles and objectives of the Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and CARIFORUM states are defined by the Cotonou Agreement. We are advised that this agreement seeks to create sustainable development of the states, their smooth and gradual integration in the world market, and eradication of poverty.
Even as the FTAA cools on the back-burner and Venezuela President Hugo Chavez pitches ALBA as a viable trade alternative, there are concerns that ALBA may not suit Trinidad and Tobago’s palette.
With the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) scheduled for July this year between CARICOM states, the Dominican Republic and the European Union (EU), several services within the local maritime sector could see changes taking place when the Agreement takes effect.
There are strident calls for the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), due to be signed by Cariforum in July, to be amended, varied or simply not signed. Any possible renegotiation of the treaty, it is acknowledged, might come at a potentially intolerable cost.
Prime Minister Bruce Golding has again sought to allay fears that CARIFORUM countries may have given up more than they will gain from the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union.
The European Commission (EC) has flatly rejected as unfounded, suggestions that the CARIFORUM Group - Caribbean Community (Caricom) states and the Dominican Republic - was forced into the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) reached last December and that the negotiations were designed to split the ACP Group.
The Caribbean region expects to sign a new trade agreement with the European Union by the end of June, Trinidad and Tobago’s trade and industry minister said on Tuesday.
CARIFORUM states including The Bahamas are now free to perform their respective legal reviews of the Economic Partnership Agreement [EPA] between the grouping and the European Union now that a legal scrub of the document has been completed, the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery [CRNM] Director General Ambassador Richard Bernal confirmed yesterday.
The devil is in the detail.
That is how former secretary general of the Association of Caribbean States, Professor Norman Girvan, has described the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union (EU) and CARIFORUM countries (CARICOM and Dominican Republic).
Professor Girvan warns that the EU-Caribbean EPA could widen inequalities among Caricom states
At the 19th Intercessional Meeting of Caricom Heads of Government in the Bahamas, Prime Minister Golding called on Caribbean companies to join together in joint ventures because, acting independently, individual enterprises will be unable to penetrate European markets or to achieve the levels of efficiency that each country requires to enter and dominate those markets. He said the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) will provide a challenge to which the region must respond.
A trade agreement with Canada is the next item on the agenda for the Caribbean Community (Caricom).
Caribbean Community (Caricom) Governments and the European Union will not be signing the controversial Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in April, as scheduled. They will instead sign the EPA two months later.
A group of academics, while stopping short of labelling the trade pact an outright failure, are proposing that Cariforum renegotiate the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), saying it gives up too much to the Europeans in exchange for too little.
When Ministers of Caricom’s Council for Finance and Planning (COFAP) meet in The Bahamas tomorrow, they are expected to consider the implications for this region of reservations expressed by Brazil at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on provisions of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) being negotiated with the European Commission (EC).
Tomorrow, the Caribbean Community (Caricom) member states will assemble in Kingston to spend two days in a retreat on the conduct of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations. This is hard to believe.
Central to many of the contentious planks that remain (especially 4-9) is the observation of Timothy Kondo (Alternatives to Neo-liberalism in Southern Africa) that the draft EPA, which formed the basis of negotiations for his region was prepared by the EU, (Third World Economics, October 1-15, 2007). This observation was reiterated more generally by Marc Maes: "The texts that the Commission has tabled have reflected the Commission’s approach to global trade. They do not reflect the interests and needs of ACP countries." (ibid, p12)
Barbados’ Prime Minister has expressed reservations about the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which CARICOM will sign with Europe in April, and he says he’s given instructions for his government to review the deal.