Reject EPA as is

By George Alleyne
Wednesday, August 27 2008

TreatyThe Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which is heavily slanted in favour of its drafters, the European Union (EU), and which the EU insists that the Caribbean agree to and sign by September 2, should be rejected and a completely new EPA drafted, which, genuinely, takes into account the social and economic interests of Caribbean nations.

What is shameful, apart from the intent of the European Union, is that the respective Caricom Governments clearly failed to monitor, stage by stage, the negotiations between the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM) and the EU or the Region would not have had to wait until the virtual eve of the date set for the EPA signing for any Member State to recognise its deficiencies.

In turn, you only have to note the observations of Professor Clive Thomas in his “Guyana and the Wider World, Design and Architecture of the EPA: The Importance of Self-Critique”, published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on February 24 of this year. “By no stretch of the imagination can blame for this situation be entirely attributed to the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM). This has been a collective failure of the Region, especially on the part of the political directorates that shoud have guided the process.”

I had referred, specifically, in This Column last week to Professor Thomas’ quoting from the Report of the United Kingdom Parliament’s Select Committee on International Development, re the EU-CRNM negotiations. Today, I add further quotes from the Select Committee’s Report. “Despite its over-riding policy emphasis on poverty eradication and sustainable development for the EU, the ACP-EU negotiations are about one thing, namely achieving the progressive and reciprocal liberalisation of trade in goods and services, in accordance with WTO rules, not taking into account the level of development of the ACP countries and the economic, social and environmental constraints they are facing.”

“Any agreement offered to the ACP must have a developmental component; should not conflict with regional integration processes; should not demand liberalisation in sectors where the EU has not itself liberalised; and should not seek to put onto the agenda in regional negotiations, issues which the ACP group has previously rejected at the all ACP level.”

Why was a “developmental component” lacking and why was it necessary for the Select Committee to point out what should have been clear, not only to the CRNM, but to the region’s “political directorates” as well? This, especially, when the African-Caribbean-Pacific – European Economic Community’s Convention of Lome, signed on February 28, 1975, had emphasised in Article 1 (Trade Co-operation) of the Convention, Page 25, that “In the field of trade co-operation, the object of this Convention is to promote trade between the Contracting Parties, taking account of their respective levels of development, and, in particular, of the need to secure additional benefits for the trade of ACP States, in order to accelerate the rate of growth of their trade and improve the conditions of access of their products to the markets of the European Economic Community… as to ensure a better balance in the trade of the Contracting Parties.”

The disgustingly patronising wording suggests that Article 1 was written by the European Economic Community and fawningly accepted by ACP countries. Indeed, whether it was the earlier Convention signed at Yaounde on July 29, 1969 by African-Pacific countries, or the Cotonou experience or the EPA, the self satisfying European Imperialist touch is there. But even as the EEC, which is today the European Union, spoke condescendingly of “the need to secure additional benefits for the trade of ACP States”, it was taking a substantial portion of ACP sugar, refining it and selling the refined white sugar product on the international market, largely Nigeria, Algeria and Middle East countries at massive profits. Today’s planned EU approach with the EPA is no different and will be no less self serving than it was with the Conventions of Yaounde, Lome and Cotonou!

The EPA is not prepared, indeed there is not and never was any intention on the part of the EU to promote trade with the region, save for one-way trade – the European Union to the Caribbean.,85132.html

6 Responses to “Reject EPA as is”

  • i agree, do not the sign epa, it seems as if the caribbean and soon other third world countries would be facing european tyrany.most caribbean countries are developing well and if the caribbean is to sign such a aweful document, it would further prolong the complete development of its annexiation mr.patrick manning should not take grenada under trinidad and tobagos umbrella,because of grenada`s geography it would put a strain on the eoconmy of t and t and its citizens which would bring adomosity and further increase crime within the nation.if any nation should be included to the union it should be barbados because of it`s potent economy. after having a powerful economy among those two islands then should grenada be consider.

  • The idea of Caribbean integration sounds like a very noble goal. However, such a drastic move should have the blessings of at least a special majority of the citizens of each country. This could be done preferably through a referendum in all countries that desire to be part of the union. To leave such an important decision to a handful of individual with hidden agenda is not only shortsighted but undemocratic. I urge all Trinbagonians to say no to this proposal that could turn out to be an unholy alliance.

  • Your motives for hating Caribbean integration, and your leader’s are quite different unfortunately. How about a compromise , let us join partnership with Guyana ,South Asian states led by India ,Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh , as well all the African states. That should make us all happy , don’t you think?

  • On this extremely important issue, it is important that Trinbagonians look beyond partisan politics to see what the pros and cons of a political and economic merger are. Would this political union be governed by a president? What would happen to the T&T Constitution? What would be the new currency? Would there be open borders? What would be the impact on traffic? Healthcare? Housing? Water? Schools? I am no politician, so I am not interested in scoring political points. As I pay close attention to the proposal via the media, I see individuals seeking power on one hand and others seeking funds. Neil, like you, I am another good Trinbagonians who loves Democracy and has learned to put country before party. Let us not be fearful of the democratic process.

  • PM’s shuttle diplomacy
    The Region is under severe pressure by the European Union (EU) to sign by September 2 the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which is clearly unfavourable to its interests. For while the EPA will allow for guaranteed quotas of Caribbean produce and manufactures entering the European Union, it would also allow for virtually unlimited and unrestricted entry of European Union goods and services to the Caricom Member States which, and this is crucial, are in varying stages of development. This would mean, ultimately, the swamping of the Region’s markets, particularly with goods produced cheaply in Eastern EU countries, the distinctly possible closure of several small and medium sized industries and with it the frightening prospect of rising unemployment levels.

  • I can see where you are going Martin, and certainly share some of your apprehensions on questions of possible Constitutional erosions, depleting resources, overtaxed infrastructures, and stagnant economy. A look at some of my feeble comments and attempts at discourse in the past few months will indicate what I really think about our government and political leaders on both side of the divide when it comes to stewardship and full recognition of their roles as servants of our people. Life in several parts of Tobago, Caranege, Movant, Chaguanas, Champ Fleaures, Mon Repos , La Siva, and Beetham , are in an abysmal state, while these two parties remains in gridlock over domestic social and economic needs.
    I am glad however that you recognized that I was being sarcastic when I urged integration with Asia, Africa and Guyana exclusively. I am hoping that the point is not lost on you as to what I was trying to show as our national political dilemma. Our Opposition led by the present cast is on a totally different agenda as far as our country is concern. The irony is that they are just as intelligent as members of the government, and holds similar philosophical and ideological mindset, but are also frequently prepared to sacrifice the needs of the nation to push a narrow sectarian, and yes, destructive agenda.
    The sad thing is that they cannot recognize the benefits of latching on to our strengths as people of all races and stripes, but prefer to appeal to our base fears. As such, they know it ,and most of us are aware , that none will ever have the chance to hold full political power and run another government in this country even if every Trinidadian abroad were given a ticket by the party to return home and vote come every election like is done in Guyana. The politics of hate will continue, while noting gets done anywhere in our country.
    In the mean time, the nonsense called Caricom union continues while Jamaicans foolishly believe that they have reached first world status since they can now win a few irrelevant races over steroid deficient Black American athletes, or pompous Bajans mistakenly think they are relevant .because their tourist dependent dollar has some minuscule value, and a national won a few irrelevant Grammies in the USA.

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