BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Thirteen of the 15 Member States of the Caribbean Forum of African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States (CARIFORUM) and the European Community on Wednesday October 15 signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which ushered in a completely new trading relationship between the Region and Europe.
The signing ceremony took place at the Sherbourne Centre, Bridgetown, Barbados with feature speaker, the Honourable Christopher Sinckler, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and international Business of Barbados delivering a ringing endorsement of the efforts of the negotiators, Officials and Ministers and Heads of Government to deliver the best Agreement possible.
Of the two countries which did not sign on Wednesday, Guyana has indicated that it would sign the Agreement in the coming days following its support for a Joint Declaration which addressed some of the country’s concerns with respect to the EPA. Haiti has asked for time given the fact that its new government has been battling the effects of four consecutive hurricanes having struck the island, leaving the recently appointed government little time to consider the Agreement.
The EPA was negotiated over a period of almost four years and initialled last December also in Barbados. The Agreement allows for reciprocal trading arrangements between the countries of the European Community and CARIFORUM including goods and services among other things.
CARIFORUM Secretary-General His Excellency Edwin Carrington, speaking at the ceremony called for a societal sea change with respect to attitudes and work ethic as the region moved to implement the Agreement. “This approach to the implementation of the EPA may yet provide the stimulus and the foundation for the region’s effective insertion into the global economy,” he added.
Also addressing the audience which included former Barbados Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign trade and International Business, Dame Billie Miller and former Director-General of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery, Ambassador Richard Bernal were representatives of the French Presidency of the European Union and the European Commission as well as the Honourable Gareth Thomas, the United Kingdom Under Secretary of State for International Development and the Honourable Donville Inniss, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and international Business of Barbados.