Bahamas forging ahead with EPA implementation

  On May 29, a validation meeting will be convened in Nassau, Bahamas, at which   representatives from a cross section of national public/private sector and   civil society institutions will be brought together for frank, comprehensive   deliberations on the draft Bahamas national EPA implementation plan.
  The validation meeting is a crucial step in the finalization of that plan,   which — when it does come on stream — is expected to position The Bahamas   to better coordinate its approach to implementing the provisions of the EPA,   in terms of obligations and benefits.
  Ryan Pinder, minister of financial services of The Bahamas, has said his   government places great importance in the soon to be finalized Plan, as EPA   implementation forms an important part of the country’s trade policy.
  The EPA is a trade and development accord between the Caribbean Forum of   African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM), of the one part, and the   European Union (EU) and its member states, of the other part. Since   respective states from both blocs signed the EPA, commitments fall to each of   them with respect to the various provisions.
  The draft EPA regional implementation road map document had been drawn up for   CARIFORUM states, following the conclusion of negotiations, in order to   identify the broad actions (chronologically) to be taken regarding EPA   implementation at the national and regional levels. Drawing on this high   level document, a number of national EPA implementation units and like   entities sought to develop national EPA implementation plans. Consultants   were retained to aid in this effort, which is made possible through funding   under the Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund   (CARTFund).
  The EPA Implementation Unit within the CARIFORUM Directorate of the Caribbean   Community (CARICOM) Secretariat is integrally involved in lending technical   support to the initiative, which the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has a   hand in backing.
  The upcoming validation meeting in Nassau, at which staff of the CARICOM   Secretariat-based EPA Implementation Unit and their Bahamian counterparts   will be on hand, provides yet another opportunity for stakeholders to meet   with the consultant. This time, the focus is squarely on the recently issued   draft Bahamas national EPA implementation plan.
  The meeting is a milestone in the consultancy, which commenced in March of   this year and has been informed by a consultative process in the period   since.
  Amongst the tasks that fell to the consultant was assisting stakeholders in   identifying and reaching consensus on the major elements of the national EPA   implementation plan, including: (i) commitments to be satisfied and trade and   investment opportunities to be explored; (ii) the major agencies required to   contribute to the implementation process; (iii) specific actions to be taken   to achieve compliance; (iv) milestones and performance indicators against   which countries can monitor, evaluate and report on the implementation   process; (v) realistic implementation timelines; (vi) resources required for   implementation and strategies for meeting resource gaps; and (vii) framework   for monitoring and reporting on the EPA implementation process.
  The final Bahamas national EPA implementation plan is slated to be submitted   to the government next month, and the expectation is that it will be given   effect thereafter.
  Just over a half-dozen CARIFORUM states stand to benefit from the national   EPA implementation plan initiative.
  The development of national EPA implementation plans is expected to bode well   for regional states presently preparing to access the recently launched EPA   standby facility for capacity building, a €3.5m fund administered by the CDB,   with support from national authoring officers (NAOs) in respective states.   The standby facility is in place for three years (December 2012 to December   2015), and is intended to assist CARIFORUM states by underpinning national   institutional capacities.
  The fifteen signatory CARIFORUM states to the EPA are the independent CARICOM   member states and the Dominican Republic.

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