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GEORGETOWN, Guyana—Outgoing Director General of the Caribbean Forum (Cariforum) Directorate, Ivan Ogando Lora, says European countries have not lived up to their promise of assisting regional countries in implementing measures contained in the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed with Europe nearly five years ago.
“With the exception of two states, EU member states have not lived up to their promise of extending bilateral Aid for Trade support to regional states grappling with the implementation of an unprecedented trade accord in the face of challenging capacity constraints, which have been made more severe by the downturn in the global economy,” Ogando said.
The outgoing Cariforum official has however praised the United Kingdom’s Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund (CARTFund) for assisting regional countries strengthen their capacities to implement measures contained in the EPA. Cariforum countries, comprising the 15-member Caribbean Community (Caricom) and the Dominican Republic, signed the EPA with the European Union in late 2008.
The CARTFund was established in 2009, with £5 million (US$7.61 million) in funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The figure increased to £10 million a year later. The CARTFund EPA public sector capacity building support projects are winding down in five regional countries after coming on stream since 2009 in Antigua and spreading to Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize and St Kitts-Nevis.
Ogando said the rollout of the CARTFund in the region, in support of public sector organizations spearheading EPA implementation, has reached a turning point. “The CARTFund has been vitally important to EPA implementation, not least because it has provided a fillip to institutional structures that are at the vanguard of the coordination of EPA implementation in a sub-set of regional states.
“With the support of the CARTFund now at its end they have a sound basis upon which to build further EPA implementation actions, which is especially important considering that institutional structures that received CARTFund support will play a crucial role in EPA implementation in the short-, medium- and long-term,” he said.
The five countries are among eight regional states that elected to pursue National EPA Implementation Plans, in close collaboration with the Caricom Secretariat-based EPA Implementation Unit.