Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean listens as??the Secretary-General of CARIFORUM, Dr. Edwin Carrington, makes a point during the conference.

The successful implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union (EU) and the Caribbean Forum of ACP States (CARIFORUM) and other trading arrangements will require significant resources.

This was revealed yesterday by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, who was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Sixteenth Meeting of Ministers of CARIFORUM at Hilton Barbados.

Senator McClean, who chaired that Meeting, said of the two planks of the EPA, development was in the forefront of the minds of Ministers. Stating that it was clear in the area of Aid for Trade the needs vastly outweighed what had been committed; she said additional studies and programmes were still being identified at the regional and national levels.

"Aid for Trade will therefore become a prominent feature in facilitating the effective implementation of the EPA," she noted.

Minister McClean urged: "We must therefore call on all our development partners to lend assistance to this region, as we further seek to strengthen the regional integration process.??We must also use opportunities presented by dialogue and the upcoming Second Global Review to press our call for developmental assistance."

She added: "But the onus is not on them. We must do our internal preparations to ensure that our needs are clearly articulated. It is incumbent on us to conduct the necessary national consultations, as we finalise the draft road map. Coordinating our approach to this process is of paramount importance, if we are to succeed."

Secretary-General of CARIFORUM, Dr. Edwin Carrington, in his remarks, pointed out that there were several items to be discussed, including a Road map to guide the use of the Euro 165 million grant resources to finance a Regional Indicative Programme under the 10th European Development Fund; three Aid for Trade initiatives; the establishment of a CARIFORUM Infrastructure Fund; and Climate Change.

Touching on the three Aid for Trade Initiatives, which could provide support for CARIFORUM trade and trade-related initiatives, he said one of them was the Caribbean Aid for Trade and Trust Fund (CARTFUND), which was established at the Caribbean Development Bank and for which the Government of the United Kingdom had pledged an initial sum of five million pounds.????

The second initiative relates to the Aid for Trade Conference in Brussels between the Caribbean and its development partners. According to Dr. Carrington, the Conference would attempt to secure access for CARIFORUM to the Euro one billion annual Aid for Trade resources, which is pledged bilaterally by the individual member states of the EU.

The other Aid for Trade Initiative is the Second World Trade Organization Global Aid for Trade Review in July this year, in Geneva, and as noted by the Secretary General, this would seek to see how we, as a region, can use that opportunity "to secure trade-related development support from our international development partners".

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