BASSETERRE, St Kitts (SKNIS) -- Residents of St Kitts and Nevis will soon have a clearer understanding of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU), thanks to a series of activities designed by the St Kitts-based EPA Implementation Unit of the Ministry of International Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
Coordinator of the EPA Implementation Unit, Shelley Ross-Chaderton revealed that it is the objective of the unit to ensure that all stakeholders and the general public are made aware of available benefits.
“This Trade and Development Agreement, which also includes a cultural component, offers tremendous opportunities to the public and private sectors, therefore all stakeholders should be in a state of readiness to take advantage of these opportunities,” explained Ross-Chaderton.
The EPA was signed October 15, 2008, by the European Community and several CARIFORUM countries, specifically Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname as well as Trinidad and Tobago. Guyana signed on to the agreement October 20, 2008 while Haiti requested more time to review the agreement.
As a member of CARIFORUM, St Kitts and Nevis is expected to be in a position to take advantage of a more dynamic trade and investment relationship with Europe. CARIFORUM, which stands for Caribbean Forum, is a subgroup of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States and serves as a base for economic dialogue with the European Union. It was established in 1992 and its membership comprises the 15 CARICOM member-states, along with the Dominican Republic.
In St Kitts the first public activity to be undertaken by the EPA Implementation Unit will be the visit of Marie-Louise Norton-Murray, project and regional expert of the Dominican Republic-based Centre for Development of Enterprise (CDE). Norton-Murray, who will be in the Federation during the week of November 12, will make several media appearances and will meet with stakeholders from the private sector.
Among provisions of the EPA is a “development package” critical to the development financing necessary to increase export capabilities and the infrastructure of the Caribbean’s private sector in order to take advantage of global market opportunities. As such, matters to be discussed locally will be technical support available to the private sector, investment promotion activities and other non-financial assistance to enterprises in St Kitts and Nevis.
Investment promotion activities and the adjustment of Caribbean economies in a manner and pace conducive to economic and social development will also be on the agenda.
The Agreement also includes a cultural component which covers visual and performing arts, arts fairs, heritage, film and video as well as television and radio aspects. Video games, computer animation, music, publishing, design, fashion and the like, have the capacity to increase cultural exchanges and business opportunities for the entertainment and cultural sector.
The differences in size and development of the countries of the region are also taken into account in the EPA, in order to create a bi-regional agreement with wider scope than just a traditional Free Trade Agreement.