Monday, May 21, 2007 – The European Union (EU) has warned that it will
not institute a Plan B on its position on future trade with the Caribbean
region. In the current round of trade negotiations the European Union is
proposing to accommodate Caribbean trade only under a quota free/tariff free
EU's Director for Free Trade Agreements Karl Falkenberg said time is running out
for the region. He said the Caribbean must define its position now, in terms of
market access offers and the acceptance to basic rules in investment and public
He says the EU wants to help but it also wants to see a commitment from the
Caribbean to the present round of negotiations.
“We will have to jointly face the reality that either we have taken our fate in
our hands and define jointly before the end of this year what trade relationship
we want to have or have to fall back on less preferential market access, with
very unfortunate but very real consequences for many farmers, banana producers,
rice producers, sugar producers and other industries in this region,” the EU
Chief Trade Negotiator warned.
This view has been strongly opposed by St. Lucia's Minister for Trade, Industry
and Commerce Honourable Guy Mayers, who said his criticism of the new EU regime
is common with that of other regional trade officials.
Mr. Mayers said managed markets with some of the preferences remaining is best
for small economies of the Caribbean region as opposed to the quota free/tariff
free proposal being offered by the EU.
He said, “The small size of a number of these countries seems not to matter and
is assumed away as an irrelevant factor in this current phase of globalisation.
It can be argued that small economies have both advantages and disadvantages, in
particular disadvantages associated with limited economies of scale, less
diversification and macroeconomic autonomy.”
Minister Mayers said the EU is re-writing its previous commitment to the growth
of small former colonies to further facilitate the advancement of the developed
The concerned representatives spoke at a gathering of regional parliamentarians
in St. Lucia on the shaping of the trade agenda to promote regional integration
and competitiveness for CARICOM, in light of the EPA and other trade negotiation