National EPA Agreement implementation plan launched

A project to develop the National Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Implementation Work Plan for Dominica was officially launched on Tuesday April 09 in a workshop setting at the Fort Young Hotel.

The workshop which was organized to bring some guidance to the implementation plan was attended by stakeholders, representatives of the public and private sector, civil society, staff of the Ministry of Employment Trade and Diaspora Affairs as well as members of the media.

The EPA, the first European agreement of its kind within the African Caribbean Pacific Grouping, introduces a two way free trade area with Europe for goods and services.

Dominica became an active member of the CARIFORUM/ EC negotiations for an EPA in April 2004 when the negotiations were launched in Jamaica.

This process was finalized in October 2008 with the formal signing of the EPA in Bridgetown Barbados.  Following the completion of the necessary domestic arrangements in the Caribbean and the European Union, the 29th of December 2008 was established as the start date for provisional application of that agreement.

In an effort to honor Dominica’s obligations under the agreement, the EPA was ratified on June 12th 2009 making Dominica one of the first CARIFORUM member states to ratify the agreement.

Since then Dominica has established an EPA Unit with the Division of Trade to coordinate implementation of the obligations of the agreement. The Unit consists of an EPA Coordinator, and trade officers in goods and services. An intern is also assisting the Unit in the area of research support.

Yvanette Baron- George- EPA local Coordinator welcomes the process of implementing the EPA in Dominica. She said Dominica will continue to benefit from its relations between Martinique and Guadeloupe under the agreement.

“The EPA implementation Plan which follows the template of the regional roadmap will be our guide in terms of implementing the EPA in Dominica. We are a peculiar country and because of our geographic location, Dominica is considered the closest island to Europe through our Guadeloupe and Martinique connections. Indeed we can safely say that we have been benefitting from our relations between the two French territories and expect to gain much more under this agreement”Baron-George noted.

Officials of from CARICOM/EPA Implementation Unit are currently in Dominica assisting the Ministry of Trade in implementing the EPA Implementation plan for Dominica.

Legal officer of the Implementation Unit of the CARICOM Secretariat Alexis Downes-Amsterdam pledged full support of her Unit in assisting Dominica in the process.

“You will have the support of the regional Unit, you will also have your own commitment and that of the stakeholders and the national Unit. What you will not have is a reason for failure. It is therefore my anticipation and that of the CARICOM Secretariat that when the verdict would have been brought in on Dominica, that none of us that has been given the mandate by the heads will be found wanting.”

The legal officer stressed that the benefits to be derived from the EPA will be realized on an individual state basis.

“One of the things we stress is that neither CARICOM nor CARIFORUM is a party to this agreement. The agreement was entered into by states so the obligations are obligations to be assumed by states, the benefits to be derived are benefits that the states themselves will derive and not CARICOM or CARIFORUM so the role of the states is integral in that regard” she noted.

The Implementation Plan project is being funded with resources from the Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional integration trust Fund (CARTFund).

CARTFund is a Trust Fund, financed by the United Kingdom Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) and administered by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) with headquarters in Barbados.

Its overall aim is to assist CARIFORUM countries in boosting growth and reducing poverty through trade and regional integration.