Stocktaking a Priority, says New EPA Implementation Director

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) –The new Director of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Implementation Unit at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Mr Carlos Wharton, has prioritised a stocktaking exercise in relation to the work of the Unit.

Mr Wharton, who took up office on August 1, is tasked with leading the Unit, one of two within the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) Directorate based in the Secretariat. The Unit was set up to facilitate the implementation of the CARIFORUM-European Union (EU) EPA, by providing CARIFORUM States with technical guidance and assistance in meeting the commitments and taking advantage of the benefits outlined in the Agreement.

Mr Wharton pointed out that, “the stocktaking exercise will provide a chance for a retrospective as well as a prospective look at the Unit’s work, in particular, and EPA implementation, in general.”

He underscored that, “once the stocktaking exercise is completed, the Unit would have generated the information necessary to plan further action and to effect a way forward with respect to its work programme.”

In this regard, Mr Wharton noted that the Unit has a distinctive role to play in facilitating the implementation of the EPA and said he is especially looking forward to working closely with national and regional partners, with a view to strengthening national capacity among CARIFORUM States to implement the Agreement. He added that under his leadership the Unit would build on its strength of extending technical support to national counterparts.

Mr Wharton concluded, “in going forward, I want to ensure that the Unit is well positioned – particularly in the context of partnerships and resources – to be even more responsive to the needs of regional states at a time when they have to contend with myriad challenges brought on by the changing realities of CARIFORUM/EU relations, a critical part of which is the EPA.”

He indicated that he was happy to be on-board, and was looking forward to working with his team to roll out the Unit’s work programme.

At the Eighteenth Meeting of the Council of Ministers of CARIFORUM, it was decided that an EPA Implementation Unit should be established in the CARIFORUM Directorate, thus superseding a Unit that had previously been established, under the same name, within the Secretariat’s Trade and Economic Integration Directorate. As a result of this decision of Ministers, a new CARIFORUM Directorate structure took form, comprising the EPA Implementation Unit and the Development Cooperation Unit.

The fifteen signatory CARIFORUM States to the EPA are the independent CARICOM Member States and the Dominican Republic.

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