Bureau of Standards Jamaica
The objectives of the CARIFORUM-EC EPA are laid out in Article 1 of the Agreement itself. These objectives are as follows:
Contributing to the reduction and eventual eradication of poverty through the establishment of a trade partnership consistent with the objective of sustainable development, the Millennium Development Goals and the Cotonou Agreement;
Promoting regional integration, economic cooperation and good governance thus establishing and implementing an effective, predictable and transparent regulatory framework for trade and investment between the Parties and in the CARIFORUM region
Promoting the gradual integration of the CARIFORUM States into the world economy, in accordance with their political choices and development priorities;
Improving the CARIFORUM States' capacity in trade policy and trade related issues;
Supporting the conditions for increasing investment and private sector initiative and enhancing supply capacity, competitiveness and economic growth in the CARIFORUM region;
Strengthening the existing relations between the Parties on the basis of solidarity and mutual interest. To this end, taking into account their respective levels of development and consistent with WTO obligations, the Agreement shall enhance commercial and economic relations, support a new trading dynamic between the Parties by means of the progressive, asymmetrical liberalisation of trade between them and reinforce, broaden and deepen cooperation in all areas relevant to trade and investment.
How do the above objectives of the EPA translate into tangible benefits, particularly for private sector stakeholders?
The EPA makes it easier for people and businesses from the two regions to trade with each other. In addition to the predictability and transparency the agreement provides with respect to market access, the EPA extends to the Caribbean 100% duty- and quota-free access for all goods. Furthermore, the EPA enables CARIFORUM companies to set up a commercial presence in the EU.
The EPA encourages trade in services. The EPA extends beyond previous trade arrangements between the Caribbean and the EU to include, for the first time, services, as well as other areas (e.g. investment, e-commerce, government procurement, intellectual property). The services commitments in the EPA open the EU market significantly beyond the WTO commitments made in the sector. In fact, the EU has liberalized more than 90% of its services sectors in the EPA, across all modes of supply. This means that service providers from many sectors (inclusive of creative and entertainment industries) can access the EU markets, including through rules established for the temporary movement of natural persons.
The EPA stimulates investment in the region. Through the removal of barriers to investment and the increased predictability and transparency outlined in the EPA, the Caribbean becomes a more attractive target for foreign investment. Equally, the EPA creates a more favourable investment climate for CARIFORUM investors in the EU as well.
The EPA supports and promotes regional integration. CARIFORUM member states have committed to offering each other the same preferences as those extended to the EU. This has particular relevance for the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic, which are not members of the CSME. Additionally, the EPA encourages trade with the seventeen territories in the Caribbean with direct links to EU countries (four French 'outermost regions' and thirteen 'overseas territories' - six British, six Dutch and one French).
The EPA provides significant development support. Between 2012 and 2015, the EU has provided over €140 million to organizations in the region. This support has been used, as an example, to fund the establishment of EPA implementation units and several new joint Caribbean-European institutions; to assist businesses in meeting EU health, safety and environmental standards as well as in boosting production and export capacity; to fund programmes which support the development of the services sector; to assist governments in raising taxes and collecting statistics; as well as many other initiatives that help the region implement and take advantage of the EPA. The EPA also provides scope for cooperation in many areas such as sanitary norms and other standards.
The reciprocity of the EPA enables better access to European goods and services. This provides businesses with access to cheaper inputs, new technologies and technical know-how and fosters competition and innovation.