In an article titled, “The CARIFORUM EPA – Stating the facts,” Mickael Baford, head of the EU Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, rejected recent warnings by diplomat Sir Ronald Sanders of the risks economic partnership agreements (EPAs) with the EU pose for Caribbean countries.
In his letter, Barfod noted that, “The overall amount the EU has set aside for the Caribbean is €1 billion, notwithstanding significant financial constraints.”
The EU official also spoke to the “considerable amounts” given to help the region’s sugar, banana, and rum industries.
He added that, “The EU is in constant dialogue with CARIFORUM (Caribbean Forum) partners,” in response to what he deems as allegations that “the EU is not engaged in a constructive dialogue with CARIFORUM on EPA implementation.”
Though noting that EPA implementation came about “at the worst possible moment” – the onset of the global financial crisis – Baford hailed its role and commitment to the region’s economic development.
Baford called for regional countries to “implement commitments under the EPA in the same way as the EU implements its own commitments.”
He also appealed to producers of goods in the CARIFORUM member states – the 15 CARICOM members & the Dominican Republic – to “strengthen their capacity to comply with SPS (Sanitary & Phytosanitary) requirements (for export-goods)” to protect their consumers and be more competitive internationally.
Sanders’ perceived accusatory comments, which include the claim that EPAs give unfair advantages to the EU, were recently made at an EU-ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) EPA conference in Nigeria.
The diplomat, also a candidate for the nomination of Commonwealth Secretary-General, noted that EPAs must take full account of the vastly different levels of development between the EU and countries like those of the Caribbean.
The regional EU representative reaffirmed: “The purpose of the EPA is to strengthen the competitiveness of the Caribbean economies, and to help them find their place in the new international economy.”