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Caribbean Export working on EPA challenges

Marlon Madden

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A number of challenges are still preventing some service providers from doing business within the European Union (EU) although they qualify due to the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
This assertion has come from Carlos Wharton, senior trade policy advisor of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, who told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that Caribbean Export was working closely with CARIFORUM countries and their governments along with other stakeholders to iron out some of those challenges.
He said although the agreement covered all modes of supply and a variety of career choices, “some of the issues affecting trade are not covered by the agreement”. He noted that some professions were more affected than others.
“So in the case of architects and engineers, while they may have market access across all four modes of supply, issues relating to mutual recognition, issues relating to training, issues relating to visas and work permits may affect their ability to export their services,” he said, pointing out that this was “already understood” when the agreement was drafted.
“So this is why we are where we are today – because three-and-a-half years after signing this EPA, we must put in place the necessary infrastructure and provide the right support so that the challenges that were foreseen in the agreement are mitigated.
“Some of these challenges are political and are outside the scope of Caribbean Export, especially when we are talking about things like visas and work permit issues,” said Wharton.
He also said he believed Barbados was well placed to take advantage of international investments due to “a number of instruments, including double taxation treaties and a bilateral investment treaty with some European Union countries”, but closer attention must be paid to product development.
“Those of you in international business would appreciate this point . . . .
“The issue is, in my opinion, that we are a bit slow in coming up with new products or new marketing and promotion activities designed to attract investment in the region, building on the fact that we have a slightly different architecture of treaties that we would have since three or four years ago,” he said.
The Caribbean Export official was speaking during the Barbados Coalition of Services Industries Inc. professional services trade clinic at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre last Thursday.
He was speaking on the topic Caribbean Export’s Programme & Initiatives (Professional Services Sector).
The topic for the trade clinic was European Business Opportunities Seminar: Your Business Here, Your Services There.