Guyana gives in
22 October 2008
Guyana on Monday signed off on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Europe, choosing to do so in Brussels at the headquarters of the European Union Council, five days after its Caricom partners had inked the agreement.
Guyanese Ambassador Dr Patrick Gomes signed on behalf of the South American country, which is home to the Caricom Secretariat.
The European Commission, in a brief statement, said it was delighted by Guyana’s move.
"The commission welcomes the decision by Guyana, which will now join the EU and its member states and the other 13 Caribbean countries that signed the EPA in Barbados last week in implementing the agreement by the end of the month," the statement said.
Haiti is the only Caricom country that has not signed on to the EPA, but Europe has said this would not adversely affect the Caribbean’s poorest country, which already has preferential status under the Everything But Arms agreement for least developed countries.
Still, Port-au-Prince has said that it also intends to sign the agreement before the October 31 deadline expires.
The signing of the agreement by Guyana effectively ends months of uncertainty that has surrounded the agreement which will govern future trade between Europe and Cariforum, a bloc that includes the 15 members of Caricom and the Dominican Republic.
Having accused Europe of using ’bully-boy’ tactics President Bharrat Jagdeo opted out of the October 15 signing in Bridgetown, but later promised that "in the spirit of compromise" and given his government’s "strong commitment" to regional integration and solidarity, he would finalise the deal by October 31.
Jagdeo also expressed satisfaction over the fact that he had fought and won a mandatory review of the agreement every five years.
The Guyanese leader had also demanded that the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (the Caricom treaty) must take precedence over the EPA, in cases where conflict arises. But this position did not find favour with the Europeans.