Workshop-regional business networking focuses on CARIFORUM EPA

From SKNIS

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – A one-day workshop and regional business-to-business strategic networking, which focused on the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), was held March 28 following CARIFORUM’s Council of Ministers Meeting March 26-27. Both engagements were held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort.

Minister of International Trade the Honourable Lindsay Grant said that the training comes at an opportune time as the region prepares for the fallout after the United Kingdom’s (UK) withdrawal from the European Union (EU), also known as “Brexit.”

“The government of St. Kitts and Nevis welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with the Caribbean Export Development Agency, the European Union and the German Development Corporation in hosting this most timely workshop as we as small island states must take advantage of all available avenues and opportunities to market our goods and our services, and the CARICOM CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement, the EPA, is one such avenue,” said Minister Grant.

He mentioned that Part II of the EPA trade and trade related matters, specifically titles 1 and 2, addresses trading goods and investments, trade and services, and E-commerce, respectively. He added that these are the areas “we will seek to address today to have our goods and our service providers take the full opportunity to capitalize on the mechanisms provided for in the EPA.

“It is our hope that utilization of these mechanisms will allow for more market penetration and market share into the EU space at a level not experienced prior to the lesson learnt from this workshop,” the minister said. “To this end, I challenge all the stakeholders here today to take full advantage of the knowledge garnered in this forum and turn them into tangible results; indeed this will be a giant step forward for CARIFORUM’s industries to improve, to develop and to expand on their export capabilities and to widen the range of goods and services previously exported.”

He explained that there are many benefits to be derived from the training and urged all in attendance to make great use of the knowledge and skills imparted to them.

“Apart from the obvious business opportunities and growth, the socioeconomic developmental impact must not be understated,” stated the minister. “Undeniably, an increase in demand for our goods and our services will translate into employment generation, an improvement in tax revenue and, to some extent, an improvement in production and process efficiency, particularly when faced with the EU standard requirements for certain types of goods and services before market access can be granted and of course the inevitable competition faced from both ends.”

The Minister of International Trade mentioned that with every undertaking, there will be challenges. These challenges were brought to the forefront in the fourth meeting of the Joint CARIFORUM-EU Council under the EPA, which took place in Brussels, Belgium, on Nov. 17, 2017.

The one-day event was organized by the Caribbean Export in collaboration with the European Union and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ).