A Strategic Approach to EPA Implementation in Barbados

The What, the Why, the Whereupon, and the Whither: A look at the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) - from the decision to negotiate to an implementation strategy for the future The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is a trade and development agreement between CARIFORUM Member States and the European Union (EU).

It was negotiated to complete the trade provisions of the Cotonou Agreement and to ensure that the Parties had WTO-compatible arrangements for trade between their two regions.

The EPA liberalizes trade and investment between CARIFORUM and the European Union (EU) on an asymmetrical but reciprocal basis. The Agreement also makes provision for EU development support to strengthen institutions and improve the competitiveness of economic operators in CARIFORUM in order that they might be better placed to take advantage of market access opportunities provided by the EPA.

This paper places the EPA into context, recalls the rationalization behind the decision to negotiate an EPA, provides a status update on implementation and presents a strategy for converting the EPA’s core principles of sustainable development; regional integration; international competitiveness of CARIFORUM firms; and development cooperation into tangible benefits for Barbados. It is envisaged that endorsement, by policy makers, of the strategic approach elaborated in the paper will establish the foundation for preparation of Action Plans to address each of the initiatives set out in chapter VI under the caption “EPA Implementation Strategy for the Future”.

The preparation of these Action Plans should be a prelude to ensuring that the relevant Ministries, agencies, and Business Support Organizations (BSO) incorporate EPA-related programmes or projects in their annual Work Plans. The maximization of EPA benefits requires a holistic approach, involving both public and private sector institutions working together with economic operators to identify opportunities and take the necessary steps to exploit those opportunities.