European UnionPress ReleasesTrade

Civil Society Discusses Caribbean-EU Trade Pact

CHRIST CHURCH, BARBADOS – As part of efforts to strengthen the participation of and dialogue with regional civil society stakeholders as regards CARIFORUM-European Union (EU) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations, a Caribbean Non-State Actors (NSA) Network was launched in Barbados, November 13. The regional network of NSAs, embracing private sector umbrella groupings, trade unions, farmers’ associations, consumer groups, academics and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), at large, was characterized by Ambassador Dr. Richard Bernal, Director General of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM) and Caribbean Principal Negotiator on EPA, as “key to deepening the process of consultation with civil society stakeholders.” Ambassador Bernal made these remarks in an address to the forum, this morning, which marked the launch of the NSA Network. In his capacity as Caribbean Principal Negotiator on EPA, Dr. Bernal updated participants on the outcomes of discussions at the Second Meeting of CARIFORUM-European Commission (EC) Principal Negotiators, held November 12, also in Barbados; focusing on regional integration elements of EPA negotiations (for details on the Meeting of Principal Negotiators please see CARIFORUM-EC Joint Press Release, November 12, available on Mr. Karl Falkenberg, Director DG-Trade, who headed the EC team at yesterday’s encounter, also addressed the forum today. Ambassador Bernal and Mr. Falkenberg engaged in dialogue with participants representing: the regional private sector, through the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC); social partners, through the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (a coalition of Caribbean NGOs of more than 50 national and regional NGOs and research centres); agricultural sector interests, through the West Indies Farmers Association (WINFA); and, regional universities, namely, the University of the West Indies and the French West Indies University. There was focused interchange on recent developments regarding the EU regimes for commodities such as bananas and sugar, given their importance for the Caribbean region. The meeting received a briefing from Mr. Percival Marie, of the CARIFORUM Secretariat, on the outcomes of the First Meeting of the CARIFORUM-EC Joint Regional Preparatory Task Force (RPTF), held November 11; and in this regard were informed of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Internal Organisation of the Joint Task Force. The forum also received a briefing from representatives of the EC sponsored Sustainable Impact Assessment (SIA) Study on EPA. The aim of the interaction was to advance a process of feeding the initial results of EPA negotiations into the SIA process, while enabling for the results of the SIA to be reflected in the negotiation process itself. Also present at today’s encounter with regional civil society stakeholders were CARIFORUM member state officials based in Brussels and from Capitals, the CARIFORUM Secretariat, the RNM, and on the EC side Brussels-based officials and representatives of EC Caribbean-based Delegations.

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