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EPA export thrust

Inniss urges private sector entities to make full use of the agreement

Six years after Barbados signed the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), officials are not convinced that private sector entities have been taking full advantage of it.

But Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss says that is about to change.

Speaking today at the launch of Caribbean Export’s inaugural Exporter of the Year awards programme at the Baobab Tower, he said his ministry recently took over responsibility for the EPA from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.

And while not giving details, he said he would be ensuring that exporters make full use of the agreement going forward.

His comments came amidst a call from Chargé d’Affaires of the delegation of the EU to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Silvia Kofler, for private sector entities to take more advantage of the agreement despite capacity issues.

Addressing the gathering, which included a number of private sector agencies, Kofler said there has been a “marginal increase” in goods out of the Caribbean to the EU under the EPA since its signing in 2008 up until 2013.

But she said there was still “a long way to go to ensure sustained, increase exports from the Caribbean to Europe”.

She said there were “some issues” preventing more private sector entities from exporting.

“This includes inefficient transportation systems, energy costs, which are still comparatively high, and the lack of full compliance with international standards. The European Union is committed to overcoming these challenges facing the region’s private sector,” she said.

Minister of Commerce Donville Inniss

Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss

Meanwhile, Inniss gave the assurance that his ministry would be doing all it could to ensure that the local private sector increases its export ability, through better use of the EPA.

“We intend to, working very closely with the EU and the Caribbean Export Development Agency, ensure that our exporters are able to get more into the European market,” he said.

“Also instructive in that quest is the desire for us to ensure that we build capacity and we do build up the kind of entities in the commercial sector in Barbados and throughout the Caribbean that are able to export, not just to the EU, but certainly further afield, and certainly to boost inter-regional trade as well.”

Inniss further noted that greater emphasis would be placed on trade in services, pointing out that the Barbados Coalition of Services Industry was playing a significant role in that area.

The EPA was signed between CARIFORUM and the EU in October 2008 with the main aim of making it easier for people and businesses from the two regions to invest in and trade with each other, while helping Caribbean states grow their economies and create jobs.

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