“The core of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is to improve the lives of people.” These were the words of Renwick Rose, chair of the CARIFORUM delegation at the inaugural meeting of the EU CARIFORUM Consultative Committee. This Consultative Committee, which is made up of civil society organisations, is tasked with fostering dialogue between the two regions and monitoring implementation of the EU-Cariforum EPA in a way that not only improves trade but also has a positive impact on the Caribbean region socially, economically and environmentally.
The CARIFORUM-EU Consultative Committee held its first meeting on 13 and 14 November 2014. These two days of discussions culminated in the adoption of a declaration that was presented to the EPA Trade and Development Committee.
The Caribbean is a region of small island developing states that are extremely sensitive to climate change and environmental issues. Full advantage must be taken of the EPA in particular to boost products that have a positive impact on the environment. This is especially important for indigenous people who are dependent on traditional production and who are among the poorest and most vulnerable in the Caribbean.
GDP growth alone is not enough to monitor the impact of the EPA. It is necessary to develop indicators that also track social and environment impacts.
"The UN sustainable development goals (SDG) reflect very well the challenges Caribbean people are facing. The SDGs have to be the base of such indicators," said Brenda King, chair of the EU delegation of the CC.
Aid for trade should become more efficient if the agreement is to generate tangible effects. Businesses should start thinking about how to fully tap into the advantages to be gained under the EPA and to focus on available tools. For example, the development of transport infrastructure between CARIFORUM states should be addressed.
The region should commit to trade openness and the implementation of EPA commitments, both among themselves and with the EU’s outermost regions.