Guyana has been betrayed by some CARICOM countries who are seeking to have Europe force the county into signing the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
However, yesterday President Bharrat Jagdeo said that Guyana is unlikely to sign the agreement on October 15 unless his two most recent suggested clauses are included.
One clause that President Jagdeo has suggested is that the agreement or declaration to the agreement must say that in its implementation, should any of the provisions of the EPA conflict with the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, then the revised treaty takes precedence.
This, the President said yesterday, is to safeguard regional integration process.
Secondly, he suggested that there should be a review every five years to look at the socio-economic impacts of EPA on the people of the region, while at the same time there should be a commitment by Europe to address that impact, should it be adverse.
“I have seen a declaration going around, which includes these two, but it requires Cariforum countries to say that we will sign only if these two clauses are in. We are constantly seeking ways to improve the agreement, not for Guyana’s sake, but for the sake of the entire region.”
The President added that should the declaration include faithfully the two clauses that were suggested, then he will reconsider Guyana’s position.
During a meeting in the United States with top officials from the European Commission and government of Europe, President Jagdeo said that he was told in confidence that some members of CARICOM are urging that Europe ‘lean hard’ on Guyana to sign.
Should Guyana succeed in getting the agreement modified, President Jagdeo said he was told, then some countries in the region would ‘look bad’.
“I was very disappointed because I thought I was fighting for a better agreement for the region and not necessarily for Guyana,” the Head of State said yesterday during a press conference.
According to the President, a look at Guyana’s position would show that the country would not be so ‘bad off’ as some of the other countries in the region.
In fact, he said, Guyana has 53 percent of the European imports already liberalized.
These imports from Europe enter into Guyana without any tariffs. Guyana does not have to commit itself to any serious liberalization.
“Overtime, we can deal with that impact and then on the other hand Guyana stands the most to lose, because we are the largest commodity exporter into Europe. So by not signing this agreement, we have more to lose than any other country.”
Had he selflessly thought about Guyana only, the President said, then this country would have been in the front row trying to sign the EPA.
“But I firmly believe that it is a bad agreement for the region and that is why I continue to fight throughout its negotiations and now to seek changes to the agreement. They seem more concerned with saving face than getting a better agreement for the region,” the President said.
Given what took place recently at the ACP summit in Ghana, there is a possibility for Guyana to get a better agreement. (Tusika Martin)
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