Español English French Kwéyol

Caribbean-EPA : Citizens calling for full and public review of the Cariforum-EC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)

Caribbean-EPA : Citizens calling for full and public review of the Cariforum-EC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)

A Caribbean citizen statement [1]

Received by AlterPresse on 21 January 2008

We note with interest the recent statement by President Bharrat Jagdeo
of Guyana in which he observed that the Caribbean stands to gain little
from the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) recently negotiated with
Europe. President Jagdeo stated that the agreement was concluded
against the backdrop of a threat that tariffs would be imposed on
Caribbean exports of sugar, bananas and manufactured goods to the
European community as of January 1st 2008 if the region did not meet
the timeline of December 31, 2007 — the date when the WTO waiver for
the trade arrangements under the Cotonou Agreement was set to expire.
He suggested that the shift from the principle of preferential trade to
one of reciprocity introduces a new set of challenges that the
Caribbean is ill equipped to face.

We welcome the candour with which President Jagdeo has now raised
several issues that have so far been overlooked by other government
leaders, officials and negotiators in the public discussion of the EPA
to the extent warranted by the far-reaching consequences of the legally
and permanently binding articles of the agreement. We believe that the
Caribbean public was not kept fully abreast of the potential
implications of the EPA for the course of the region’s economic
relations, not only with Europe, but with all other trading partners as
it may become a blueprint for future trade negotiations. It is
regrettable that Caribbean governments and responsible officials did
not keep the public better informed about the progress of the
negotiations and the ’bullying’ and ’broken promises’ by Europe to
which the President of Guyana referred. We believe that opportunities
must be found to remedy this deficit in the future, and that the
situation calls for full disclosure, for public explanation of the
shortcomings as well as any anticipated benefit of the EPA, and for
open participation in a discussion of its implications for our
economies and for the livelihoods of our peoples.

It is our understanding that the EPA is due to be signed by Cariforum
Ministers on March 15 and to be provisionally applied from April 1.
After that, Caribbean countries will be locked in for all time to the
provisions of this legally binding instrument. It will be very
difficult, and in all likelihood very costly, to amend the EPA after it
comes into force. We are urgently proposing that more time and
opportunity be provided for a full and public review of the EPA in
order that all its aspects are explained and understood and relevant
objections taken into account.

January 20, 2008.


1. Andaiye, Red Thread, Guyana

2. David Abdulah, President, Federation of Independent Trade
Unions and NGOs (FITUN), Trinidad and Tobago

3. Akim Ade Larcher, Human Rights Activist, St. Lucia/Toronto

4. Association of Development Agencies, Kingston, Jamaica

5. Havelock Brewster, Honorary Professor, Sir Arthur Lewis
Institute of Social and Economic Studies, University of the West Indies

6. Hazel Brown, Coordinator, Network of NGOs of Trinidad and
Tobago for the Advancement of Women

7. Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action
(CAFRA) Regional Secretariat, Trinidad and Tobago

8. Dr. Robert Carr, Caribbean Centre of Communication for
Development, Caribbean Insitute of Media and Communication, University
of the West Indies, Mona Campus

9. Dr. Dennis C. Canterbury, Visiting Professor, Center for
Development Studies

University of Cape Coast, Ghana ; and Associate Professor, Department of
Sociology and Anthropology, Eastern Connecticut State University, USA

10. Komal Chand, President, Guyana Agricultural and General
Workers Union

11. Flavia Cherry, National Representative, Caribbean Association
for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA) – St. Lucia, ASPIRE St. Lucia
and the St. Lucia National Organization of Women

12. Annalee Davis, Independent Visual Artist, Barbados

13. Kathleen Drayton, President, Barbados Association of Retired
Persons Inc.

14. Dr. Norman Girvan, Professorial Research Fellow, Institute of
International Relations at the UWI, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago

15. Dr. Cecilia Greene, Sociologist, Dominica/USA

16. Caroline Hossein, University of Toronto

17. Dr. Julian R. Hunte, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and
International Trade in the Government of St. Lucia

18. Cathal Healy-Singh, Environmental Engineer, Rights Action
Group, Trinidad and Tobago

19. Caroline Hossein, University of Toronto

20. Dr. Claremont Kirton, Head, Department of Economics,
University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica

21. Josanne Leonard, Caribbean Cultural Industries Network

22. Dr. Patsy Lewis, Senior Fellow, Sir Arthur Lewis Institute
of Social and Economic Studies, University of the West Indies, Mona.

23. Dr. Brian Meeks, Professor of Social and Political Change,
Director, Centre

for Caribbean Thought, Department of Government, University of the West
Indies, Mona.

24. Ian MacDonald, writer, past Chief Executive Officer of the
Sugar Association of the Caribbean

25. Dr. Woodville Marshall, Emeritus Professor, University of the
West Indies

26. John Maxwell, Journalist

27. Dr. Debbie Mohammed, Specialist, International Trade and

28. Shantal Munro- Knight, Snr Programme Officer Caribbean Policy
Development Centre

29. Dennis Pantin, Professor of Economics and Head, Department of
Economics, St. Augustine Campus, University of the West Indies,
Trinidad and Tobago

30. PAPDA (Haitian Advocacy Platform for an Alternative

31. Kari Polanyi-Levitt, Emeritus Professor, McGill University,

32. Dr. Rhoda Reddock, Social Scientist, Trinidad and Tobago

33. Regional Executive Committee of the Assembly of Caribbean
People (ACP)

34. Dr. Nestor Rodriguez, University of Toronto

35. Cecil Ryan, Managing Director, Projects Promotion Limited,
St. Vincent and the Grenadines

36. Sir Ronald Sanders - Business Executive, Writer and former
Ambassador to the WTO

37. Raffique Shah, Journalist, Trinidad and Tobago

38. Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination, Guyana

39. Dr. C. Y. Thomas, Distinguished Professor, University of

40. Dr. David Trotman, Department of History/Division of
Humanities, York University, Canada

41. Dr. Alissa Trotz, Sociologist, University of Toronto

42. Judith Wedderburn, Coalition for Community Participation in
Governance (CCPG)

43. Dr. Michael Witter, Department of Economics, The University
of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica


[1For more information