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‘No doubts’ in Caribbean forging ahead with EPA says official

Trinidad and Tobago Guardian

‘No doubts’ in Caribbean forging ahead with EPA says official

19 August 2012

BRIDGETOWN—A top Caribbean Forum (Cariforum) executive wants to put to rest doubts that region will not be able to capitalise on the opportunities offered by the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed into effect between CARIFORUM and the European Union (EU) since 2008.

“Cariforum is open for business and is unflinching in its commitment to implementing the EPA,” Director General of the Cariform Directorate Ivan Ogando- Lora asserted as he addressed the first day of a two-day high-level meeting hosted last week in London by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) to discuss the way forward for the region in the EPA.

“The EPA is a very important foundation for us in the region to build on and utilise, with respect to tapping into the European market place,” commented Pamela Coke Hamilton, executive director of Caribbean Export in her opening remarks. “However, we need to continue to put in place mechanisms to enable our private sector, for example, agro-processors and creative industries, to take advantage of the Agreement. This meeting is one, important step in that direction,” she added.

Held at Grosvenor Hotel in London, the second Cariform-EU business forum on the EPA, trade and investment, took place under the theme: “Making the Cariform-EU Economic Partnership Agreement Work”, and featured regional private sector representatives delivering a series of presentations and participating in panel discussions.

Among the presentations on the first day were: Investing and Doing Business in the Caribbean’s Sports Industry’, moderated by Stephen Lashley, Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport in Barbados; Taking Advantage of Investment Opportunities within the Caribbean and Europe’, moderated by Matthew Rock, communications director for Caspian Publishing and founding editor of Real Business Magazine; and the capstone session ‘Trading with Europe—Making the Cariform- EU Economic Partnership Agreement Work’, which was moderated by Eddie Nestor, presenter for Drive Time on BBC London Radio.

Day two of the meetings saw a number of breakout sessions, which focused primarily on the recently concluded Manufacturing and Cultural Industries Study Tours to the United Kingdom, Germany and France. In particular, the sessions covered issues related to Standards, Intellectual Property, Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary requirements, Market Intelligence and Technical Assistance.

The Forum ended with recommendations for enhancing Cariform-EU trade and investment relations. The second Cariform-EU Business Forum was supported under the EU’s 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Regional Private Sector Development Programme (RPSDP), in collaboration with the African Caribbean and Pacific States Business Climate Facility (ACP BizClim), the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Cariform Directorate, the Caricom Secretariat, and Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).