A recent one-day Validation Seminar organised by the Barbados Services Export Project has been described as "timely and critical".

Entitled: Strengthening the Capacity of Barbadian Services Suppliers to compete effectively in the EU and other Developed Markets, it was hosted yesterday at the Accra Beach Hotel, by the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Implementation and Coordination Unit.

The observation has come from Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean.?? Her comments came against the backdrop of criticisms levelled at Caribbean Governments for appearing unwilling or unable to implement measures, or to strengthen the capacity to diversify regional business reach; expand indigenous entrepreneurial bases and take advantage of opportunities created by the EPA.

Ms. McClean said: "Our governments are seen as being quick to commission studies, keen to sign agreements or to make commitments; but painfully slow at implementing recommendations arising out of these studies, or the obligations resulting from various agreements."

Pointing out that persons who subscribed to this did not necessarily understand the role and place of Government within the arena of business, the Minister explained: "When Barbados joined other CARIFORUM countries in signing the EPA on October 15, 2008, we were very aware that this far-reaching agreement would change fundamentally the trade and development cooperation relationship between CARIFORUM Member States and the European Union.

"Therefore, the Government of Barbados was determined that this agreement would not be signed and then immediately forgotten. We did not intend to forego opportunities for institutional strengthening, competitiveness improvements, market access exploitation and the like."????????????

According to the Foreign Trade Minister, it was against this background that the establishment of the EPA Implementation and Coordination Unit in Barbados was announced by then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and International Business, Christopher Sinckler, at the EPA Signing Ceremony in Barbados.

On that occasion, Minister Sinckler stated that the Government would establish a Unit to facilitate EPA Implementation and Coordination. The Unit would have the responsibility of devising strategies to enhance the capacity of public sector institutions to meet EPA-related obligations, and of working with the private sector to position economic operators to take advantage of opportunities provided by the agreement.

??Senator McClean added that the EPA Implementation Unit, which became operational in July, last year had been focusing on, and would continue to give priority to these two key aspects of EPA implementation.?? This, she acknowledged, would, on the one hand, satisfy Government’s obligations under the Agreement and, on the other hand, help the private sector to identify and exploit opportunities.??jgill@barbados.gov.bb

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