Big EU boost

Organizers are in a better position to implement the tenth EDF services component of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) following a $3.2 million Euro funding from the European Union (EU) recently.

The Caribbean Export Development Agency in conjunction with the implementing partners CARICOM Secretariat and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce of the Dominican Republic (DICOEX) have been awarded responsibility for the implementation of the programme.

“The services component of the EPA represents one of the concrete ways that Caribbean businesses and entrepreneurs could reap tangible, economic benefits. The services sectors in most CARIFORUM countries is a significant contributor to GDP, accounting for more than 50 per cent of GDP in most cases and over 60 per cent for the OECS member states” said Ambassador Michael Barfod, head of delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean
for the EU.

He made the comments during the opening session of a Caribbean private sector consultation at the Radisson Aqautica Resort on Friday, prior to handing over the cheque.

Officials said in most CARIFORUM states trade was increasingly driven by services export. However, due to regimes found across numerous trade agreements, CARIFORUM states were severely constrained in their ability to take advantage of the opportunities that exist for long-term economic development.

It has been recognised that there were also gaps in critical statistics on the services sector making it difficult for planning, marketing and implementing strategies for growth and market penetration.

It is hoped that the tenth EDF services sector component of the EPA would address those issues, specifically through the development of a policy and regulatory framework to support the CARIFORUM services sector; building capacity of national and regional services support organisations such as Coalition of Services and Chambers of Commerce; and improvement of the mechanisms for the collection and dissemination of data and statistics.

The programme, while supporting the development of the services sector should also help to facilitate integration of the CARIFORUM states.

In her remarks, senator Maxine McClean said the Government had recognised the increasingly important role which the services sector plays in the island’s economic development.

The programme should cover the professional, financial, education, health and wellness, tourism, cultural entertainment and sport, and ICT services sectors, with the objective of ultimately improving the competitiveness of CARIFORUM services suppliers and promoting improved accessto regional and international markets.

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