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Speeding up EPA execution

Government is about to get help to ensure the island’s businesses and organisations are better able to cash in on the Economic Partnership Agreement with Europe.

Almost four years after the current administration established a special EPA Implementation Unit within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, a consultant is to be hired to help push things along.

A terms of reference document related to the project, while noting that the special unit and Government had made some progress, said a major shortcoming the consultant would be mandated to fix as motivating the local private sector to “become more proactive in seeking out EPA related business opportunities”.

“Fortunately, some private sector entities, which had initially been rather hesitant and uncertain in their approach to the EPA, are gradually becoming more involved,” the project outline stated.

“Consequently, the Barbados Private Sector Trade Team and the Barbados Coalition of Services Industries have become more engaged in recent months and, working in cooperation with the EPA Implementation Unit or on their own, have taken the initiative in organizing workshops or trade clinics in an attempt to ensure that the business community is better informed and prepared to explore EPA-related opportunities.

In the circumstances, the EPA Implementation Unit in Barbados has concluded that there is need for more effective dissemination of information on how to take advantage of EPA-related opportunities. In effect, it has been determined that the EPA Unit’s information outreach should be less technical and more action-oriented, focusing not only on the provisions of the Agreement, but more on how to access markets and/or extract other benefits,” it added.

The overall objective of these efforts, including the planned consultancy, was to “facilitate EPA implementation in Barbados by ensuring that economic operators are better informed of and better prepared to take advantage of EPA-related market access opportunities”.

It was hoped that through this “relevant regulatory and facilitating institutions will also become more knowledgeable about available development cooperation resources and how best to access such resources”.

“The specific objectives of this proposal are…to secure the services of a local consultant, who will operate under the supervision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade’s in-house Consultant/Advisor on EPA implementation, to assist with the technical preparations and organisation of an EPA opportunities seminar. Arising out of the seminar presentations and exchange of views between participants and presenters, the contracted consultant will also be required to develop an action plan for small and medium-sized companies seeking to enter EU markets,” the document said.

“To host a two-day EPA outreach seminar, including targeted workshop sessions, for approximately 100 participants, comprising representatives of private sector organisations, business facilitation agencies, producers and exporters of goods and services, the NGO community, and relevant regulatory institutions,” it also noted. (SC)

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