A regional trade and investment expert is encouraging businesses in the Barbadian manufacturing and agriculture sectors, as well as service providers to those sectors, to conduct thorough assessments in order to take greater advantage of the Economic Partnership Agreement.
Allyson Francis, Trade in Services and Investment Specialist in the EPA Implementation Unit of the CARICOM Secretariat, advised businesses to determine what they needed to know about the agreement as well as other sectors.
“In terms of assessment, we need to examine the challenges and weaknesses we face and better define them. We also need to improve our strategy in order to become more competitive,” Francis said.
Francis was addressing manufacturers, agricultural producers and service providers in the trade clinic, Exporting Barbadian Products and Services to Europe, put on by the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries Inc. recently at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
Francis also reminded participants that the EPA was a tool to be used for the development of their businesses.
“I encourage you to think about how your different industries can have better access to the European Union,” she said.
With regard to the services sector, the trade and investment expert said that the sector could play a major role in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors through services such as advertising and distribution.
“Services play a large role in agriculture and manufacturing so we must not look at EPA implementation from the perspective of goods only, but also from services,” Francis added.
Robert Glass, Project Manager of the German Agency for International Cooperation, noted that the private sector needed to define its priorities relative to the EPA. He also said that with other country blocs signing onto the EPA, CARIFORUM countries need to take advantage of the agreement now.
Other speakers at the trade clinic included Director of the Export Development and Promotion Division of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation Sonja Trotman, and Lisa Cummins, BCSI Executive Director. Cummins announced that the BCSI was in the process of developing a web portal to enable providers to have 24/7 access to information and support regarding EPA provisions.
The trade clinic also gave participants the opportunity to liaise directly with stakeholder agencies in areas such as EPA Support, EU Market Intelligence, and Development Support.
Manager of Marketing, Nature’s Produce Inc., Tamisha Boyce, said the clinic was a great opportunity to have one-on-one interaction with supporting agencies.
“It’s an excellent idea though we would have liked to hear about the end stage processes such as shipping and transportation,” she added.