Brussels, 17 May 2010 - The EU and the CARIFORUM States held in Madrid the inaugural meeting of their Joint Council, in connection with the EU-Latin America and Caribbean Summit. European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht met his Caribbean counterparts and took steps to make the institutions of the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) fully operational. They welcome Haiti signature to the EPA.
As the benefit of trade agreements comes not from negotiating them, but from putting them into practice, the Joint Council took important procedural steps to ensure the effective implementation of the Agreement. The Agreement's institutions including at the ministerial level - the Joint Council, and its committees, are key to make the EPA work in practice and to ensure that it can be a tool for the sustainable development of the Caribbean region.
The CARIFORUM-EU EPA, signed in October 2008, is a trade and development agreement which covers not only trade in goods, but also services, investment, social and labour standards, competition policy and transparency in government procurement. It is the first (and, to date, only) comprehensive regional EPA in any ACP (Africa, Caribbean, Pacific)
The CARIFORUM-EU EPA was signed on 15 October 2008 and provisionally applied as of 29 December 2008. It provides for the gradual and asymmetric liberalisation of trade in goods, services and investment between the Caribbean signatories and the EU with the objective of fostering the sustainable development of the Caribbean region. Implementation of the EPA is specifically supported by the resources of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) for the CARIFORUM region.
Total EU trade with the Caribbean region amounts to more than €8.5 billion per year. EU exports to the Caribbean include chemicals and machinery and transport equipment. Caribbean exports to the EU include agricultural products, fuels and chemicals.
The CARIFORUM region includes 15 countries: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. Haiti signed the Agreement on 10 December 2009. The EPA is not yet applied by Haiti pending its ratification, which is now delayed due to the recent earthquake.