The meeting between Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Tobago stakeholders at the Magdalena Grand Beach Resort yesterday has been described as fruitful.
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T&T, Caribbean companies to benefit from EPA
Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon said in spite of some challenges, the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) has the potential to help local and regional companies penetrate European markets.
“It (the EPA) has the potential to expand market opportunities for the regional private sector within the European Union (EU) ” she said.
Gopee-Scoon spoke yesterday at the Third Meeting of the CARIFORUM-EU Parliamentary Committee Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port-of-Spain.
She said nine years ago this month, the EPA Agreement between the CARIFORUM states and the EU was signed, ushering a new legal basis for preferential trade between the two regions.
The purpose of the agreement is to make it easier for people and businesses from the two regions to invest in and trade with each other and thus to help Caribbean countries grow their economies and create jobs.
The Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) is a subgroup of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States and serves as a base for economic dialogue with the EU.
She called on visiting EU parliamentary members who were at the meeting yesterday to influence the EU Commission in adopting a more flexible approach in the challenges which CARIFORUM countries face.
“Especially in this time of difficult economic conditions and our vulnerability to natural disasters.”
She called the EPA a “comprehensive trade and development agreement.”
“The agreement addresses a number of areas like trade in goods, services and investment, competition policy, innovation and intellectual property, transparency in public procurement, environmental and social aspects and personal data protection. It also pertains an over-arching developmental co-operation chapter.”
She said while the EPA has not yet come into force it has been provisionally applied since 2008 by all parties with the exception of Haiti.
She pointed out that there are challenges and referred to the first review of the EPA and said that market penetration for regional companies has been very difficult.
Boleslaw Piecha, Member of the European Parliament and Chair of European Parliament’s Delegation to the CARIFORUM-EU Parliamentary Committee who also spoke yesterday said that the EU delegation would visit several local companies who have already entered the EU market including Angostura and T&T Fine Cocoa.
“The EPA is a very good agreement which provides trade and investment opportunities,” he said.
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