Local businesses encouraged to take advantage of trade agreement with EU

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Trade Minister Chet Greene
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By Shermain Bique-Charles

[email protected]

Trade Minister Chet Greene is encouraging the local private sector to seize the opportunities available for exporting goods to the European Union (EU).

The twin island nation is among more than a dozen Caribbean countries that benefit from the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed in October 2008. The aim is to make it easier for people and businesses from the two regions to invest in and trade with each other, and to spur development across the Caribbean.

At the launch of a Caribbean Development Bank-EU project aimed at enhancing the private sector’s ability to increase exports under the EPA, Greene expressed his belief that micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), and the private sector in general, have not taken full advantage of the deal.

In addition to a trade in goods agreement, the EPA includes commitments on trade in services, investment, trade-related issues such as competition policy, government procurement, intellectual property rights, and sustainable development aspects.

Being a signatory means duty-free quota-free market access into the EU for all products and the possibility for CARIFORUM companies to set up a commercial presence in the EU, among other benefits.

Greene expressed his appreciation for the EU as an indispensable partner in Antigua and Barbuda’s pursuit of progress.

The EPA offers many opportunities for local businesses to export not only their manufactured goods and agricultural products to the EU, but also their services, Greene explained.

Furthermore, the agreement facilitates collaboration, including the establishment of joint ventures with like-minded businesses for the supply of raw materials and the movement of goods.

Greene also explained that the EPA provides direct development cooperation assistance to MSMEs, which is infused throughout various subject-specific provisions of the agreement.

“Despite the numerous challenges facing MSMEs, such as continuous hikes in freight and oil prices and supply chain disruptions, there remain opportunities for businesses to grow and thrive in the regional and global markets.

“Accordingly, we must focus on empowering businesses in Antigua and Barbuda to become drivers of economic growth, and the provisions of our bilateral agreement with the European Union provide us access to a market for the trade of our goods and services,” the minister added.

Visit https://caricom.org/category/economic-partnership-agreement-epa/ for more information.

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