Guyana’s consistent opposition to signing the Economic Partnership Agreement in its current form has prompted the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat to issue a Draft Communiqué to CARIFORUM leaders for yet another round of consensus.
This newspaper managed to secure a copy of the communiqué which, according to the document, if consensus is gained, will be dispatched to the European Commission.
According to the document circulated, if consensus were to be achieved, Guyana will sign the EPA on October 15, the date already agreed by CARIFORUM Heads during a special meeting in Barbados recently.
The Draft was prepared following discussions between the Government of Guyana and the European Commission, and is subsequent to a previous communication from the Secretary-General of CARIFORUM to the then EC Commissioner for Trade, Peter Mandelson, advising, among other things that the Government of Guyana is prepared to sign onto the ‘Trade in Goods’ Section of the Agreement, thereby making it WTO compatible.
Embedded in the draft communiqué is the statement that the European Community and its Member States and the Members of the Caribbean Forum of ACP States (CARIFORUM), acknowledge that its collective signature of the EPA signals the passage of an era in trade relations and development cooperation between the two trading blocs that is regarded as a model for relations between developed and developing countries.
“In so doing, we recognise the changing dynamics of the global economy as well as the continuing importance of our cooperation to the realisation of the development objectives of CARIFORUM States…
“As we affix our signatures to the Economic Partnership Agreement, we emphasise that it must be supportive of the development priorities of CARIFORUM States, not only in its structure and content, but also in the manner and spirit of its implementation….To that end, its implementation must pay due regard to the established integration processes in CARIFORUM, including the reinforcement of the aims and objectives of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy as outlined in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.”
The main elements of the communiqué seek to define the role of the treaty of Chaguaramas as it relates to the EPA, in that it will be agreed that in the implementation of the EPA, wherever its provisions are in conflict or are not compatible with those of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, the latter shall prevail.
The communiqué, if arrived at a consensus, commits to working closely within the institutions of the Agreement to achieve its aims and objectives, taking particular account of the different levels of development among our countries, in particular the needs of the small vulnerable economies, including those designated as less developed under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
Another pertinent aspect of the communiqué on which consensus is being sought is that a review of the agreement must be undertaken not later than five years after the date of signature and at subsequent five-yearly intervals.
This will be in order to determine the impact of the agreement, including the costs and consequences of implementation, and there will be a commitment to amend its provisions and/or applications as necessary.
ACP stance on EPA
Meanwhile, the recently concluded Summit of African Caribbean and Pacific countries, which also had to negotiate separate EPAs, has established a stance on the EPA.
The ACP heads issued a statement wherein it read: We, the Heads of State and Government of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), meeting at our Sixth Summit in Accra, Ghana from 2-3 October 2008; having considered the negotiations and the process of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs) between our States and the European Union; concerned that the process has split the group into countries that have initialled interim or full EPAs and those that have not initialled any agreement, while most have expressed concerns about the process and content of the EPAs; concerned about the undue pressure that is being put on some ACP countries to move forward to signing and ratification of interim or final EPAs before legitimate concerns have been adequately addressed in a way that creates conditions for all ACP countries to become part of agreements that genuinely contribute to growth, development and the advancement of regional integration; determined to safeguard and further enhance our unity and solidarity; desirous of ensuring that the EPAs are inclusive, foster regional integration and provide tangible development benefits for our peoples; and stressing that in order to smooth the process for finalization of the EPA negotiations, the European Commission and its Member States must take account of the interests and concerns of ALL our States.
1. That ACP Heads of States and Government, represented by the Presidents of the Africa Union, CARIFORUM and Pacific ACP Summits, and headed by the President of the ACP Summit, engage in high level consultations on the EPAs, with a number of EU Member States,
2. To instruct the President of Council and the Secretary-General to explore, by the end of October 2008, modalities for conducting this high level engagement with key stakeholders in the European Union; and
3. To instruct the Council of Ministers to pursue the consideration of the creation of an ACP Free Trade Area (FTA).
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