CARIFORUM, EU Sign Three Agreements

CARICOM29 March 2012: The Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) and the European Commission (EC) signed three financial agreements totaling €82.6 million (about US$110 million) to promote Caribbean integration and aid in the realization of CARIFORUM's implementation commitments under the CARIFORUM-EC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

The first agreement, worth €8.6 million, will be implemented by the Secretariat of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). It aims to advance the OECS Economic Union among its nine member States (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines). The agreement focuses on the areas of: harmonizing policy in tourism and agriculture; strengthening the Union's capacity to integrate into the wider Caribbean Community (CARICOM) arrangements; and enhancing the competitiveness and export capacity of the private sector.

The second agreement, worth €28 million, will be implemented by the CARICOM Secretariat and aims at further developing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), especially in the areas of government procurement, labor market information systems, e-commerce and capacity building in statistics. Funds have been set aside under this agreement to help Belize and Haiti take better advantage of the CSME and to help other CARICOM member States in their CSME implementation.

The third agreement, for 46.5 million, aims to improve CARIFORUM's capacity to implement and take full advantage of the EPA, with support in the areas of fiscal reform, services, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and removing technical barriers to trade.

The funds for three agreements will be drawn from the €165 million Regional Programme of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF). At the signing ceremony, which took place in Turkeyen, Guyana, Robert Kopechy, EU Representative to CARICOM, said that the funds are “a testimony of the EU's continued commitments to support the Caribbean Region in the dynamic process of regional integration."

CARIFORUM consists of the 15 CARICOM member States and the Dominican Republic. [CARICOM Press Release]