Barbados has moved a step closer to paving the way for exporters to capitalize on easier access to the multibillion-dollar European market with their goods and services.
A bill that puts the force of law in Barbados behind the Economic Partnership Agreement signed five years ago in Bridgetown between this country and other CARIFORUM States and European Community, is now before Parliament for debate and approval.
Once that proposed act is sanctioned by the local legislature, it will be deemed to have come into operation on January 1, 2009. An EPA Implementation Unit had been established within Government to examine the feasibility of Barbados taking advantage of the agreement and to ensure its institutions were ready to be compliant with all the requirements under this trade partnership for sustainable development arrangement with the Europeans. The 559-page bill, which was tabled in the House of Assembly by Leader of Government Business John Boyce on the fifth anniversary of the EPA signing, will, among other things, make it easier for Barbadian professionals, to work in the EU without having to go through the “red tape” such as requiring work permits.
It is not certain when the House of Assembly will start discussing the proposed act. The schedules within that document, grant duty free access to goods exported from Barbados and other CARIFORUM States to the EU and vise versa, during the period 2011 to 2033.
The bill also lists those goods to which the Most Favoured Nation rate of duty will apply. With the agreement focusing on trade partnership for sustainable development, one of the expected outcomes is for a reduction and eventual eradication of poverty
through the establishment of a trade partnership consistent with the objective of sustainable development, the Millennium Development Goals and the Cotonou Agreement.
The arrangement is also aimed at promoting regional integration, economic cooperation and good governance. By achieving this, the partnership is hoping to establish and implement an effective, predictable and transparent regulatory framework for trade and investment between the parties and in the CARIFORUM region.
Another intended outcome is to promote the gradual integration of the CARIFORUM States into a world economy, in accordance with their political choices and development priorities.
Once Parliament gives Barbados the “green light”, this country also stands to benefit from opportunities to improve its capacity in trade policy and trade related issues and support for the conditions for increasing investment and private sector initiative and enhancing supply capacity, competitiveness and economic growth in the CARIFORUM region.
As far as development cooperation is concerned, there will be provision for technical assistance to build human, legal and institutional capacity in CARICOM and the Dominican Republic, so as to facilitate their ability to comply with the commitments set out in the agreement.
Other benefits under the EPA call for the elimination of customs duties on exports originating in Barbados and its neighbouring territories and imported into Europe, and vice versa.
All parties to the agreement will also be permitted to adopt anti-dumping and countervailing measures in accordance with WTO contracts. (EJ)