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’...Agreement harmful to small producers’

Trinidad & Tobago Express | 9 June 2008

’...Agreement harmful to small producers’

Ariti Jankie South Bureau

Calling for a re-negotiation of a new Economic Partnership Agreement, Federation of Independent Trade Unions and Non Governmental Organisations president David Abdulah says aspects of the agreement could prove to be harmful to the people of Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean.

Speaking at a press conference at the Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU) headquarters at Circular Road, San Fernando, on Friday, Abdulah said Caribbean heads of government would be asked to renegotiate the EPA following a two-day workshop where the matter would be discussed in detail.

The workshop, to be held in collaboration with Caribbean Policy Development Centre, Christian Aid and OXFAM, is carded to take place on June 12-13 at the Institute of International Relations, University of the West Indies, St Augustine.

Abdulah said the workshop agenda included picketing Whitehall and the offices of the European Union on June 12 to show dissatisfaction with the EPA.

He said Caribbean heads of government had also expressed dissatisfaction and Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo said recently that Guyana felt pressured into the agreement.

He said Caricom did not have powers to implement new rules, while the EPA was made up of a governing council with implementing strength. He said the impact of liberalisation of goods produced in Europe entering Caricom duty free posed a threat to employment, as goods produced locally will have to compete with goods produced in Europe.

Abdulah said it would be difficult for local producers to compete with Europeans, as they produced in larger volumes and benefitted from a lower cost due to mass production.

"There are all types of obstacles in the agreement that does not level the playing field," he said.

Abdulah said while general statements were made in the EPA, penalties were given for failing to meet deadlines and there was need to negotiate binding agreements instead of general statements.

 source: Trinidad & Tobago Express