Saturday, October 11, 2008

Senior Negotiator Says Caribbean Region Was Not Prepared For EPA Talks

By Kevin Lindon

GEORGETOWN, Guyana: The Caribbean was unready for the negotiations on agriculture under the controversial Economic Partner-ship Agreement (EPA), a senior negotiator said this week at an agriculture conference in Kingstown.

Ambassador Patrick Antoine, a lead negotiator in the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery, said the bloc has lost some opportunities in areas such as transportation.

"Late in the EPA negotiation process, CARICOM (Caribbean Community) was scrambling to respond to the European Union proposals," Antoine said Tuesday morning during a media roundtable workshop at the Caribbean Week of Agriculture conference in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

"We came to the table in agriculture, truth be told, ill-prepared."

Antoine said, for example, matters raised by Belize - such as having the issues of subsidies and domestic support addressed - were ignored in the EPA talks.

"They were given scant regard and so, in terms of wanting to get these matters treated in the EPA, they were not," he added.

The EPA, which is to be signed on October 15, succeeds the Cotonou Agreement and sets out the guidelines for trade between CARIFORUM countries - CARICOM and the Dominican Republic - and the European Union.

Antoine also said there was a blunder in another aspect of the EPA because, in the Uruguay round of the talks, some consumption and other taxes at the ports were not taken into account.

"It means that many of the consumption and other taxes that exist at the ports, by definition, were illegal," Antoine explained, adding that the negotiating team later managed to reverse the mistake.

But St Vincent and the Grenadines Ambassador to CARICOM, Elsworth John, said the region did a good job in the EPA negotiations.

Source: CNN

No comments:

Post a Comment