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Marshall: Limit EPA to trading of goods

The Nation, Barbados

Marshall: Limit EPA to trading of goods

28 April 2008

For the moment, Caribbean countries should limit signing of the full Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Europe in the trade of goods section.

This suggestion was made by Dr Don Marshall, senior research fellow at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies.

Caribbean leaders should "leave the other aspects for further contemplation, negotiation, feedback", he said during a presentation and discussion at the University of the West Indies’ Cave Hill Campus last Monday.

Marshall thought Caribbean leaders ought to try to negotiate better deals on the services, investment, government procurement, competition and intellectual property aspects of the EPA.

A simple matter like accessing Europe to deliver services represents "a quagmire", he charged.

Regional governments initialled the EPA last December. They are now undertaking a legal review of the text of the agreement, with June 30, 2008, proposed as the date for full signing and provisional application of the agreement.

Marshall warned that the EPA had the potential to undermine the Caribbean Community, or CARICOM.

It can seriously restrict the power of regional leaders to frame policy and intervene to put their economies in order, he told the forum hosted by Oxfam GB (Barbados).

A joint CARIFORUM/EU Council being set up to oversee the EPA will have even more power than the CARICOM Secretariat to enforce the rules of that EPA agreement, according to Marshall. (TY)