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Cut tariffs, EU urges region


NATASHA BECKLES

Cut tariffs, EU urges region

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THE EUROPEAN UNION (EU) is urging Barbados and other Caribbean countries to reduce the tariffs that have been identified under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
The EU’s new ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Mikael Barfod, told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY the cuts were a critical part of implementing the agreement which was signed in 2008.
“These tariff cuts will gradually establish the agreement, but it is not done overnight.
“Barbados actually did the first tariff cut on January 1, 2011, on schedule – together with half of the countries I’m responsible for.
“There’s another tariff cut that has to take place January 1 [2013]. We don’t know whether Barbados is going to do that but we keep reminding the countries . . . ,” he said.
Barfod noted that governments “hesitate sometimes because they get revenues from import taxes that are then reduced if the tariffs are reduced”.
“However, our argument is that it will generate trade within the region.
“The countries, they have to think a bit longer term, which is, never mind the revenue [they] lose tomorrow if the day after tomorrow [they] get growth, employment, high income taxes and VAT,” he said.
The ambassador noted that the EU was “not completely happy” with the pace of EPA implementation but it had noticed some progress and was discussing with the governments how things could be speeded up.
When the EPA was signed in 2008, it was agreed that CARIFORUM would not be obliged to begin reducing its tariffs on items subject to phased reduction commitments until 2011.
This three-year moratorium was applied to products with either a high degree of revenue sensitivity or a degree of protection as products of domestic industries competing with imports. (NB)

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