SASOD has joined with the group of citizens calling for a review of the recent EPA
We note with interest the recent statement by President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana in which he observed that the Caribbean stands to gain little from the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) recently negotiated with Europe. President Jagdeo stated that the agreement was concluded against the backdrop of a threat that tariffs would be imposed on Caribbean exports of sugar, bananas and manufactured goods to the European community as of January 1st 2008 if the region did not meet the timeline of December 31, 2007 -- the date when the Cotonou Agreement was set to expire. He suggested that the shift from the principle of preferential trade to one of reciprocity introduces a new set of challenges that the Caribbean is ill equipped to face.
We welcome the candour with which President Jagdeo has now raised several issues that have so far been overlooked by other government leaders, officials and negotiators in the public discussion of the EPA to the extent warranted by the far-reaching consequences of the legally and permanently binding articles of the agreement. We believe that the Caribbean public was not kept fully abreast of the potential implications of the EPA for the course of the region's economic relations, not only with Europe, but with all other trading partners as it may become a blueprint for future trade negotiations. It is regrettable that Caribbean governments and responsible officials did not keep the public better informed about the progress of the negotiations and the 'bullying' and 'broken promises' by Europe to which the President of Guyana referred. We believe that opportunities must be found to remedy this deficit in the future, and that the situation calls for full disclosure, for public explanation of the shortcomings as well as any anticipated benefit of the EPA, and for open participation in a discussion of its implications for our economies and for the livelihoods of our peoples.
It is our understanding that the EPA is due to be signed by Cariforum Ministers on March 15 and to be provisionally applied from April 1. After that, Caribbean countries will be locked in for all time to the provisions of this legally binding instrument. It will be very difficult, and in all likelihood very costly, to amend the EPA after it comes into force. We are urgently proposing that more time and opportunity be provided for a full and public review of the EPA in order that all its aspects are explained and understood and relevant objections taken into account.
January 18, 2008.
Andaiye, Red Thread, Guyana
David Abdulah, President, Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs (FITUN), Trinidad and Tobago
Association of Development Agencies, Kingston, Jamaica
Hazel Brown, Coordinator, Network of NGOs of Trinidad and Tobago for the Advancement of Women
Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA) Regional Secretariat, Trinidad and Tobago
Komal Chand, President, Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union
Flavia Cherry, National Representative, Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA) – St. Lucia, ASPIRE St. Lucia and the St. Lucia National Organization of Women
Annalee Davis, Independent Visual Artist, Barbados
Dr. Norman Girvan, Professorial Research Fellow, Institute of International Relations at the UWI, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago
Dr. Cecilia Greene, Sociologist, Dominica/USA
Cathal Healy-Singh, Environmental Engineer, Rights Action Group, Trinidad and Tobago
Dr. Claremont Kirton, Head, Department of Economics, University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica
Josanne Leonard, Caribbean Cultural Industries Network
Dr. Patsy Lewis, Senior Fellow, Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies, University of the West Indies, Mona.
Dr. Brian Meeks, Professor of Social and Political Change, Director, Centre
for Caribbean Thought, Department of Government, University of the West Indies, Mona.
Ian MacDonald, writer, past Chief Executive Officer of the Sugar Association of the Caribbean
Dr. Woodville Marshall, Emeritus Professor, University of the West Indies
Dr. Debbie Mohammed, Specialist, International Trade and Competitiveness
Shantal Munro- Knight, Snr Programme Officer Caribbean Policy Development Centre
Dr. Dennis Pantin, Head, Department of Economics, St. Augustine Campus, University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago
PAPDA (Haitian Advocacy Platform for an Alternative Development)
Dr. Kari Polanyi-Levitt, Emeritus Professor, McGill University, Montreal
Dr. Rhoda Reddock, Social Scientist, Trinidad and Tobago
Regional Executive Committee of the Assembly of Caribbean People (ACP)
Cecil Ryan, Managing Director, Projects Promotion Limited, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Sir Ronald Sanders - Business Executive, Writer and former Ambassador to the WTO
Dr. C. Y. Thomas, Distinguished Professor, University of Guyana
Dr. Alissa Trotz, Sociologist, University of Toronto
Judith Wedderburn, Coalition for Community Participation in Governance (CCPG)
Dr. Michael Witter, Department of Economics, The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica