Barbados will play host to the Fourteenth Special Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government next week. The meeting, which comes off at the Sherbourne Conference Centre on Wednesday, September 10, has been convened to reach some consensus on signing the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between CARIFORUM states and the European Union (EU).
The EPA covers trade in goods, services and investments, and provides for development assistance to CARIFORUM countries. Under the proposed reciprocal pact, these states will have access to markets in the EU, and will enjoy duty free right of entry to EU member countries.
Last year, on December 16, Barbados was the host country when CARIFORUM and the European Commission (EC) initialled the comprehensive EPA. At that time, all 15 CARIFORUM member states – CARICOM plus the Dominican Republic – had signalled their intention to become parties to the EPA.
Barbados perceives that the EPA could be used as an effective mechanism to advance the region’s development by addressing a number of the supply-side constraints which have been negatively affecting our competitiveness. These constraints, many of which are characteristic of small developing economies, include a limited export base dependent on one or two commodities; widespread operational inefficiencies; ineffective or non-existent regulatory institutions; and a general lack of international competitiveness.