Closing in on EU trade agreement

SHAWN CUMBERBATCH, shawncumberbatch@nationnews.com

Added 17 December 2016

daniela-tramacere-and-pamela-coke-hamilton-121216

Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Daniela Tramacere (left) in discussion with Caribbean Export Development Agency executive director Pamela Coke-Hamilton. (Picture by Ricardo Leacock.)

SOME SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGES remain, but Caribbean exporters have made progress with their exports to Europe.

This assessment came from head of the European Union (EU) delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Daniela Tramacere as she announced that “discussions with CARIFORUM and Caribbean Export are well advanced for a new regional private sector development programme in the amount of EUR 24 million”.

Tramacere also said the EU was “convinced that the [economic partnership agreement] can benefit Caribbean countries particularly at this time of stark economic challenges”.

She was speaking last week as the Caribbean Export Development Agency hosted the Second Caribbean Exporter Of The Year Awards at Hilton Barbados Resort.

“Thankfully, we are beginning to see a glimmer of progress as between 2009-2013 exports from the Caribbean to the European Union increased by 20,” Tramacere said.

“However, these exports are still largely comprised of traditional products, traded in traditional markets, as the level of diversification that we had set as one of our objectives has not materialised. The services sector remains a concern, notwithstanding that this sector accounts for over 70 per cent of GDP in many Caribbean economies.”

The diplomat said following the most recent trade and development committee both sides recognised that services are key economic drivers for the EU and CARIFORUM member states.

She also noted that “action is needed to complete the regulatory environment pertaining to services, including those in relation to the Mutual Recognition Agreements should be prioritised”.

“The EU and CARIFORUM agreed to work towards ensuring that the trade in services provisions of the EPA yield the anticipated benefits. In addition the two sides also felt it necessary to explore all the available measures that support the development of the CARIFORUM service suppliers’ capacity to gain meaningful access to the EU market.”

“Other hurdles to overcome include weak linkages to global value chains, small economies of scale, low levels of productivity and production capacity, as well as the high costs of shipping and transportation.” (SC)

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