Minister of Economic Affairs and Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick
The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) could be a vital tool in Government’s efforts to expand and revive the island’s manufacturing sector.
This assertion was made recently by Minister of Economic Affairs and Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick during a Manufacturers Forum at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
The Minister noted that the EPA was a reasonable tool for encouraging and promoting meaningful and beneficial trade and economic relations between CARIFORUM and the European Union (EU) within the current multi-lateral trading environment.
Dr. Estwick also stated that under the EPA, provision was made for duty free access to the EU market for almost 100 percent of the region’s goods.This arrangement he said, was more beneficial to the region as opposed to the accord which had been in use.
The Economic Affairs Minister said the EPA would “open up opportunities for the development of greater trade between Barbados and the islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe and St. Maarten”.
Dr. Estwick stated: “I cannot emphasise how critical it is that our manufacturers exploit the market access opportunities created by the EPA. However, to be successful, we must ensure that locally made goods are internationally competitive, with regards to price, quality and adequacy of supply, including conformity with international standards.”
Acknowledging that there would be increased competition within these markets, the Minister pledged to “neutralise such challenges resulting from the EPA through the provision of targeted assistance to counter the expected increase in competition”.
Dr. Estwick reminded the entrepreneurs that the EPA represented a fundamental shift in the nature of the traditional trade relations between the region and Europe.
The trading agreement also represented the basis on which small and medium sized enterprises could become more integrated players in the world trading economy.