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CARIFORUM signs EPA without Guyana, Haiti

Rickey Singh

Thursday, October 16, 2008    

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados - The signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union (EU) and the CARIFORUM Group - Caribbean Community states and the Dominican Republic - went ahead as planned yesterday.

However, Guyana and Haiti, which had both expressed reservations about sections of the agreement, did not attend the signing ceremony at the Sherbourne Conference Centre here.

Guyana had advised both the European Commission (executive arm of the EU) as well as the CARIFORUM Secretariat of its intention to sign the agreement before month end, now that a compromise has been reached in response to its reservations that include an amendment to provide for "mandatory" reviews every five years.

Sources said Guyana was likely to sign the agreement in Brussels either at the ministerial or ambassadorial level. However, Haiti, which is in a special category of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), has until 2010 to negotiate its reservations before signing the EPA.

Apart from the St Lucia prime minister, no head of government nor trade and development commissioners of the European Commission had a presence for the historic signing. But a mix of senior ministers, diplomats and officials were in the queue to affix their signatures on behalf of member states of CARIFORUM and the EU. Signing for Jamaica was Foreign Minister Dr Kenneth Baugh.

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