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CARICOM Secretariat PR70 - Role for EPA in Unlocking Economic Value

NO: 70/2013                                                                           DATE:   4th April 2013

Role for EPA in Unlocking Economic Value of Region’s Cultural Industries, Sporting Sectors

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     Unlocking the economic value of the cultural industries and sporting sectors of the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) holds much promise for development prospects, especially at a time when there has been a significant reduction in traditional revenue streams. The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) represents an important ‘key’ for the Region, in this regard.

This insight emanated from deliberations of the Parliamentary Delegations of the CARIFORUM States Legislatures and the European Parliament, on the occasion of the Second Meeting of the CARIFORUM-European Union (EU) Parliamentary Committee. The Meeting, convened in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on April 3, was chaired by Senator the Honourable Vasant Bharath, Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Trinidad and Tobago.

Delegates exchanged views on a variety of matters, highlights of which appear in the Joint Declaration issued upon the conclusion of the Meeting.

Senator Bharath set the tone for the Meeting. His opening remarks called attention to the “unique role” of the Parliamentary Committee. Member of the European Parliament and Head of the European Parliament Delegation, Mr. David Martin, described the Parliamentary Committee as “the parliamentary piece in the institutional jigsaw puzzle.”

There are four other institutions established to facilitate implementation of the Agreement: (i) The Joint CARIFORUM-EU Council; (ii) The CARIFORUM-EU Trade and Development Committee; (iii) The Special Committee on Customs Cooperation and Trade Facilitation; and (iv)The CARIFORUM-EU Consultative Committee.

In his address at the opening ceremony, Mr. Martin further stated “Our joint task is to monitor the application and implementation of the EPA. We have the chance in this setting to learn how the Agreement is working on the ground, and how the other Institutions are functioning.” He opined, “The CARIFORUM-EU EPA is a trailblazer, and it is up to all of us to make a success of it.”

Of the six ACP regions, CARIFORUM is the only one that to date has concluded and signed a ‘comprehensive’ EPA.

In discussions on EPA implementation, both sides called attention to the considerable importance of the CARIFORUM Region’s cultural industries, including education, sport, national heritage activities, training and exchanges, which were an asset of the Region and of the EU. Delegates were of the view that these areas are growth areas for CARIFORUM States with respect to export earnings, a point which Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, Ms. Pamela Coke-Hamilton, underscored in outlining the programme of work that her Agency is rolling out. “The Caribbean Export Development Agency’s primary objective is to build Caribbean brands and competitiveness across the Region and in external partners. In this regard, we are finalizing a creative industries strategy. We are also looking at the business of sports,” she said.

While the Joint Declaration acknowledged that the “EPA was recognized as being of critical importance in the Region’s strategy to further promote and commercialise the creative and sporting sectors”, CARIFORUM delegates were quick to point to regulatory barriers with respect to the EU market that posed difficulties in translating market access into real market penetration. According to the Joint Declaration, “members strongly welcomed and supported the proposal to lift the visa requirements for nationals of CARIFORUM States visiting the EU including the Outermost regions as an important measure to facilitate exchanges.”

Representatives of the Trinidad and Tobago private sector also lent their voice to the Meeting. Five business support organizations (BSOs) were invited to deliver presentations at the forum, with a view to sharing the experiences of some of their members in breaking through and operating in the EU market.  

The Parliamentary Committee also focused attention on issues germane to the treatment of certain goods of importance to CARIFORUM. There was a call for both sides to continue to work to bridge differences.

Another constant in the deliberations was EU policy on differentiation in future development aid. Elements of that exchange are captured in the Joint Declaration.

The fifteen signatory Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific (CARIFORUM) States to the EPA are the independent CARICOM Member States and the Dominican Republic.

— END —

CONTACT: Nand C. Bardouille

      Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Implementation Unit

       nbardouille@caricom.org

PR702013 - Role for EPA in Unlocking Economic Value of Region's Cultural Industries, Sporting Sectors.pdf

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