ACP - EU
Between 1975 and 1999, Barbados and countries of Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) were party to four economic/trade arrangements with Europe known as the Lomé Conventions. Each successive Agreement built and expanded on the previous one.
In June 2000 that relationship evolved further when the Cotonou Agreement was signed by ACP States and the European Union (EU). That Agreement establishes a wide-ranging framework for ACP-EU relations. At its centre are economic development, the reduction and eventual eradication of poverty, and the smooth and gradual integration of ACP States into the world economy.
The Cotonou Agreement continues to provide trade, economic and financial cooperation. However, it also provides for a radical change in that relationship. The REPAs will facilitate reciprocal trade in goods and services from 2008 to 2020 in the first instance. This represents a major difference to the non-reciprocal preferential arrangement under the Lomé Conventions.
Negotiations are currently ongoing for a CARIFORUM/EU Regional Economic Partnership Agreement (REPA) which is to be in place on 1 January 2008. These negotiations are being guided by the principles and objectives of the Cotonou Agreement.
Barbados and the EU
Barbados' relationship with the European Union (EU) is an extension of its colonial ties with the United Kingdom (UK). Barbados, as a member of CARIFORUM (CARICOM and the Dominican Republic) is currently negotiating a Regional Economic Partnership Agreement (REPA) with the EU. These negotiations are taking place within the context of the Cotonou Agreement. Click here to read the complete text of the Cotonou Agreement.
Traditionally, the EU has been Barbados' principal market for sugar and rum exports. The Cotonou Agreement addresses the treatment of sugar in Protocol 3, while there is a Joint Declaration XXV on rum. Given the changing rules in the EU with respect to sugar over the years, Barbados and other members of CARICOM are considering how to restructure their sugar industries.
Negotiations for the Regional Economic Partnership Agreement (REPA) between CARIFORUM and the EU were launched in Jamaica in April 2004. At that time, it was agreed that the following broad objectives should be pursued:
Attainment of economic development that is socially and environmentally sustainable;
Enhancement of the ability of small Caribbean states to play a more meaningful role in the international community consistent with their political and economic aspirations for self-determination;
Facilitation of Caribbean structural transformation which would allow for the reduction of that region's acute economic vulnerability and the emergence of new expressions of development; and
Adjustment of Caribbean economies in a manner and at a pace that is conducive to overall economic and social development.
The negotiations will be conducted in four phases. The first phase established the priorities of the REPA negotiations and was concluded in September 2004. The second phase of the negotiations, scheduled to conclude in September 2005 will focus on a strategic approach to CARIFORUM regional integration. During the third phase REPA negotiations will be consolidated; and during the fourth phase the negotiations will be concluded and the Agreement finalised, in order for the Agreement to come into effect in January 2008.
Negotiations are being conducted in a number of areas including Market access for Goods; Agricultural goods and fisheries; Services and other trade-related issues such as Rules of Origin; Standards; Sanitary, Veterinary or Phytosanitary rules; and Rules for the protection of consumers. A number of technical meetings have been held in this regard. The CARIFORUM Non-State Actors Forum has also been established.
Review of Cotonou
The Cotonou Agreement calls for a review of the provisions of that Agreement for possible amendment before the end of each five-year period during the twenty-year partnership. In February 2005 the first such five-year review of the Cotonou Agreement was conducted. Discussions were conducted under the following four thematic areas:
- political dimensions
- development strategies
- rules and procedures
- investment facility
Both the ACP and the EU proposed areas for possible amendment as a result of their review processes.