Member states discuss their readiness to implement CARIFORUM-UK agreement
Ministers of Trade in the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) region are working together to conclude a new agreement that will chart the next phase of their relationship with the European Union (EU).
These discussions come as Britain finalises its exit from the EU, and this was among several matters discussed at the 26th meeting of CARIFORUM, which took place at the Beachcombers Hotel here in St Vincent on Friday.
St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has had chairmanship of the organisation since 2019, and Sir Louis Straker, in his capacity as Acting Prime Minister, served as chairman during last week’s meeting.
“The European Union is our most important contributor for our finances for our economies. We depend upon them and we have a good partnership from the Lomé Convention right down to now, and we are hoping to continue that strong partnership where even after the Post Cotonou, that we can really be benefited by technical assistance and funds they provide for the development of our various countries,” he said.
Straker, in a post-meeting press statement said that relations between the ACP and EU were being negotiated into the new Cotonou agreement, since the old agreement expires on February 20.
This agreement is a partnership agreement between the two regions which encompasses development co-operation, political co-operation and economic and trade co-operation.
The foreign affairs and trade minister said the EU is hoping that negotiations will conclude by March but the ACP region believes that more time is required to conclude everything and settle on a new agreement.
Percival Marie, the director general of CARIFORUM also sought to give a comprehensive overview of Friday’s meeting.
He said that “ministers also looked at the schedule for the conclusion of negotiations and expressed their views and opinions on the conclusion and schedule of negotiation”.
“They urged countries and negotiators to input into the negotiating process so that the Caribbean could play its proper role in the ACP negotiations and could negotiate the best agreement possible on the bilateral level with the European Union,” he said.
Marie noted that the 11th EDF programme is currently valued at about 346 million Euros and “we were checking up with some discussion of the development aspects of the new arrangement and what the Caribbean hoped to get out of that arrangement, what the Caribbean hoped to negotiate and approaches the Caribbean would take both at the ACP level and within the regional protocol in addressing the regional protocol as it relates to the development co-operation element”.
Other matters discussed at the meeting included member states’ readiness to implement the CARIFORUM—UK agreement, Caribbean Regional Information and Translation Institution (CRITI), Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA) and a vote on its new rector and the decision to retain Marie as the director general of CARIFORUM.