Mayores oportunidades de cooperación entre CARIFORUM y la UE gracias al Acuerdo de Asociación Económica
“The opportunities for regional co-operation, particularly in the private sector have been enhanced with the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement between CARIFORUM and the EU,” said Ambassador Gail Mathurin, Director-General, Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN), Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat.
Amb. Mathurin was speaking on behalf of Amb. Lolita Applewhaite, Acting Secretary-General of CARICOM, at the launch of the 10th European Development Fund for the Regional Private Sector Development Programme, in Bridgetown, Barbados, 20 April 2011.
The OTN Director-General said that the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) ushered in a new era of reciprocal trading relations between Europe and the Caribbean. The Caribbean Forum for African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) and the European Commission (EC) signed the EPA in October 2008.
Amb. Mathurin added that the Agreement was “indicative of the changing dispensation in multilateral and bilateral trade, and trade agreements.”
“CARIFORUM and the EU have sought to articulate a shared vision designed to facilitate the establishment of a modern trade infrastructure, the creation of a business environment which stimulates private sector development and increased exports,” she said.
She pointed out that the enhancement of co-operation has been the fulcrum around which the countries of the Caribbean Region have focussed their efforts at development. This was due, in part, to the recognition that the path to sustainable development within the Region and meaningful participation in the global arena, was through structured co-operation.
In highlighting the myriad benefits the Region had already accrued through cooperation, Amb. Mathurin drew attention to the creation and expansion of the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), which has seen a 40 percent decline in AIDS-related deaths in the Region.
“PANCAP has been an outstanding example of what can be achieved through cooperation among countries and among stakeholders at all levels with assistance from our International Development Partners,” she said. The partnership, Amb. Mathurin said, received a significant vote of confidence when the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) provided a grant of just under US$30M to continue the struggle against the disease.
The OTN Director-General said that a further testimony to what collective action of the wider Region could achieve, was CARICOM’s advocacy for issues related to Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) which has resulted in the UN High Level Meeting on NCDs that will take place in New York, USA, on 19-20 September.
Other examples of regional cooperation that had produced exemplary results, she said, could be found in the work of the Caribbean Regional Disaster Management Agency (CDEMA); the private and public sector collaboration among the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), the Caribbean Hotels Association (CHA) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) to develop the region’s tourism sector; and efforts by the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network Agency (CKLNA),which utilizes information and communication technologies to boost its development.
Against this backdrop, Amb. Mathurin said that it was appropriate for the Caribbean Export Development Agency - another example of Pan Caribbean co-operation - to be vested with the task of managing the Regional Private Sector Development Programme funded by the European Union.
The Caribbean Export Development Agency is an institution within CARIFORUM which focuses on export promotion in goods and services with emphasis on competitiveness and innovation. Amb. Mathurin said the Regional Private Sector Development Programme would be a vital component in ensuring that the EPA brought tangible benefits to the Region. In this context, she expressed appreciation to the EU for what she described as its “unstinting support,” to regional cooperation, particularly to the growth of the Agency.