Jamaica’s PM Off to Barbados for CARICOM Meeting on EPA

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Prime Minister, Bruce Golding of Jamaica, is in Barbados, to attend the 14th special meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), on the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement.

The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday (September 10), and will also be attended by representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.

Just last week the House of Representatives approved a resolution endorsing the decision of the Government to put its signature to the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The Agreement was negotiated between CARIFORUM states and the European Union and the deadline for signing by all the parties involved, has been set for October 31, 2008.

Under the EPA, CARIFORUM exports will enjoy duty and quota-free access to the markets of EU member countries. CARIFORUM countries are not immediately required to provide equal access to EU exports, as the region has secured an ‘exclusion list’, representing 13 per cent of current imports which are available locally.

The region also secured an extended period of between five to twenty-five years, before tariffs would have to be removed from remaining imports. Existing tariffs will remain in place for up to three years and thereafter, will be gradually removed over a 22 year period. This will allow countries in the region to undertake the necessary fiscal adjustments, to recover revenues lost in the removal of tariffs through domestic taxes.

The EPA Agreement, provides access to a market of 490 million people with Gross Domestic Product and per capita income of US$13 trillion and US$30,000 respectively.

In the Prime Minister’s absence, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr Kenneth Baugh, will be charge of the Government. Mr. Golding will return to the island on Thursday afternoon (Sept 11).(JIS)

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