Consultant in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade’s EPA Implementation Unit, Errol Humphrey, delivering a presentation at the workshop.

Business persons in Barbados are being urged to see the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) as beneficial and cost effective.

The suggestion has come from Consultant in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade’s EPA Implementation Unit, Errol Humphrey, as he addressed a workshop organised recently by the Private Sector Trade Team and held at the headquarters of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in Brittons Hill, St. Michael.

Examining the topic: The Roadmap to EPA Implementation in the Manufacturing Sector, Mr. Humphrey said the EPA was created to "help Barbados to benefit from institutional strengthening; improve the competitiveness of economic operators and position them for better access to the EU markets."

He noted that under the EPA there were a number of provisions intended to standardise, simplify and bring greater clarity to and speed up customs procedures. "Therefore, the movement of products through customs, both imports and exports should be expedited. This increased efficiency [and] transparency should reduce your costs," he said.

??"We have already started working with customs [officials], because they are the key players in this. They, of course, have to declare goods coming in. Also, in terms of exports to the EU, [the] Customs [officials] are the ones who have to certify that your products meet the criteria for duty free treatment going into the EU…There are a number of other processes being introduced under the EPA to speed up and totally transform customs procedures, so that things are smoother; [and] more transparent and hopefully, it should be also less costly."

With regard to any recourse Barbadian businesses would have against imported products, Mr. Humphrey said: "I know that one of the concerns that we’ve had with the EPA is that products are going to flood the regional markets… Trade defence measures provide the ability to protect local producers from unfair competition from imported products being dumped on your market.

"The EPA provides that we in CARIFORUM can apply the anti-dumping [rules] on any EU products that we conclude are being dumped. And, the anti-dumping measures usually involve applying a duty that you consider equivalent to the damage being done, or to the level of subsidy by the product that is being dumped.

"But, where the EPA is asymmetric is that whereas we can do that for EU products coming into our markets, the EU has said: ???if …Barbados, or other CARIFORUM countries are dumping their products on the market, we won’t apply anti-dumping measures. We will work with them to try to resolve the issue through constructive means…to help them to improve their procedures… We will not impose the countervailing duties that we could impose under the WTO [World Trade Organisation] and under the EPA. Instead, we will take constructive steps to rectify the problem."

Barbados and other CARIFORUM nations signed the new EPA agreement in 2008, as a means of expanding exports of goods and services to European countries.


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