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Call for EU to honour agreements

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Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has warned European Union (EU) counterparts that the Caribbean’s efforts at dealing with the global financial and economic crisis will come to nought if the EU does not play its part in assisting the region.{{more}}

Gonsalves, attending an EU-CARIFORUM Summit in Madrid, Spain, last week, gave EU leaders a vivid account of further economic woes that can possibly face the Caribbean.

Speaking on behalf of CARICOM, Gonsalves called upon the EU to appreciate the vital importance of the production and trade of Bananas, Sugar, Rice and Rum to the social and economic development of CARIFORUM, particularly in rural areas.

He implored the EU leaders to expedite the delivery of promised assistance based on national adaption strategies of Banana exporting CARIFORUM countries.

Calls were also made to the EU to reduce the bureaucratic and technical delays resulting in the unsatisfactory level of disbursement under the Accompanying Measures Programme for Sugar.

“Simply put, the EU must honour the consultation provisions of the Cotonou and EPA Agreements; ensure that its other bilateral trade agreements are not pursued at the expense of the Caribbean region,” said Gonsalves.

“Let there be no doubt that unless the EU is careful, it can undo the positive contribution by its unilateral actions and bilateral commitments on commodities to those outside of the ACP,” Gonsalves warned.

He also called on the EU to urgently undertake an assessment of the impact of trade liberalisation with Latin America and CARIFORUM countries.

Gonsalves used the occasion to identify Food Security as another important area in which the EU could collaborate with CARIFORUM.

At the summit the heads of state and government of the CARIFORUM and the EU agreed to take advantage of opportunities to jointly develop a new partnership strategy and promote regional integration amonst the states.

The leaders also agreed to promote regional integration and cooperation for sustainable development, as well as develop effective responses to climate change and natural disasters, including reconstruction of Haiti.

The leaders decided to explore their partnership while promising to take note of some of the challenges affecting their regions.

The European Union (EU), was represented at this meeting by the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, José Manuel Durão Barroso, President of the European Commission, and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, President of the Government of Spain. (HN)

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