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WINFA presents paper to CARICOM, EPA

WINFA presents paper to CARICOM, EPA

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The Windward Island Farmers Association (WINFA) has presented an advocacy paper to Secretary General of Caricom Edwin Carrington and regional negotiators of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) so that it could be proposed to the European Union, EU, to highlight changes necessary for the improvement of the banana industry.

According to Coordinator of WINFA, Renwrick Rose, this Advocacy Paper outlines crucial implications certain “lop sided” tariffs and subsidies proposed by the EU and the adverse consequences it could have on trade and primarily the banana industry. He said that the EU has a tariff system on a first come first serve basis and the Caribbean has a licence protection of 40% on bananas but it could be reduced to 19 per cent next year.{{more}}

In an interview with the Searchlight Newspaper, the WINFA coordinator revealed that with the help of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD a study was commissioned by Dr Claudius Prevel of the OECS Secretariat to highlight strategies, which could be addressed to improve the banana sector.

The document noted that Belize and Guyana were the only two countries in the region that exported more agricultural products than they imported and outlined the need for financial and technical assistance to build the agricultural capacity.

Rose said that transport was another problem in regional trade and that the establishment of a regional shipping line that had cold storage capabilities so that the produce being shipped could be kept fresh when transported, was critical.

Rose said that these and other findings highlighted by Dr Prevel were crucial to the survival of the “green gold” fruit, which still contributes significantly to the economy.

The WINFA coordinator emphasised the need for the EU to consider the impact that Global Warming is having on the Caribbean with the main culprits of this environmental degradation being the larger developed nations such as those of the EU.

“We can’t be negotiating without taking into consideration the environmental context being taken into context because provisions should be made for developing and implementing appropriate environmental standards for the continued protection and preservation of the environment,” he said.

Rose believes that the EU is setting up these tariffs and getting rid of subsidies to ensure that they could bombard the Caribbean market with their goods. He said that this would have adverse effects on the local produce and advised farmers and local producers to adopt the correct strategies in production and packaging.

He announced that WINFA was also ensuring that local products such as bananas would be provided as a healthy fruit to other regional nationals, hotels and to visitors as part of the Caribbean experience.

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