EPA Consultation in St Vincent and the Grenadines on Wednesday

On April 18, the CARICOM Secretariat-based Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Implementation Unit will once again mount a public education-styled EPA consultation for St Vincent and the Grenadines. The consultation will take place in the capital city, Kingstown.

The St Vincent and the Grenadines Consultation Series on the CARIFORUM-EU EPA will this time be held under the theme Trade Related Issues (TRI), with special reference to Innovation, Competitiveness and Intellectual Property in the EPA and the interests of St Vincent and the Grenadines in those issues. Consideration of the possible Gender Impact of the EPA, a theme requested by St Vincent and the Grenadines for inclusion in the agenda, will also form part of the proceedings.

The Consultation is funded under the 9th European Development Fund (EDF), Caribbean Integration Support Programme (CISP). It is also made possible by UK aid from the Department for International Development, through the Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund (CART Fund). The Consultation, as with some others before it, is also made possible through the generous support of Deutsche Gesellschaftfür Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

The upcoming meeting is the final engagement in the three-pronged Consultation Series launched in September2011, with a seminar on Trade in Services. Last month, a session focused on the thematic area of Trade in Goods was held.

Each of the day-long consultations attracted a cross-section of participants, namely technocrats/experts and representatives of the public and private sectors (including industry groups), as well as representatives of civil society, including the academic community, and social and economic partners.

As with consultations mounted for other signatory States to the EPA, the EPA Implementation Unit collaborated closely with national authorities in the country with responsibility for EPA implementation. The responsible national authorities liaise with, identify and invite relevant participants. This extends to identification of key national public and private sector as well as civil society focal points to serve as resource persons who support primary resource persons selected by the EPA Implementation Unit to spearhead the respective sessions.

The Consultation Series is geared at affording participants a better appreciation of how the regional private sector can take advantage of the possibilities flowing from and leverage the various facets of the Agreement, while drawing attention to the content of the provisions of the EPA. The expectation is that the Consultation Series will also form a basis for deepening and expanding engagement between institutions with responsibility for facilitating the implementation of the EPA and those involved in the areas under consideration in this Consultation.

To date, the EPA Implementation Unit has responded to requests for Consultations from Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname. The Unit has requests from other States which are being scheduled.

The fifteen signatory Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific (CARIFORUM) States to the EPA are the independent CARICOM Member States and the Dominican Republic.

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