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PM outlines pointed case for treatment of small vulnerable states

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Contact: John Emmanuel

Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - Another case has been made for the appropriate application of the principles of special and differential treatment for small-island developing states, in the wake of intensified unfavourable trading arrangements involving the North American Free Trade Arrangement (NAFTA) and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

The latest case was outlined to the European Union’s (EU) Trade Commissioner, Pascal Lamy, by Prime Minister and Minister for Economic Affairs, Honourable Dr. Kenny Anthony, as a joint Ministerial Trade Committee meeting of the ACP/EU ended here on the weekend. According to Dr. Anthony, with the emergence of plans for the FTAA in which all of the Americas would enjoy more favourable market access than small island states, the only option would be to seek FTAA membership for themselves.

That strategy however he admitted, carried a serious setback that of reciprocity under the WTO rules as they now stand. “We are faced with a ‘Hobson’s Choice,’ he stated. “If we stay out, we lose our North American markets, and if we join, we lose our domestic agricultural and manufacturing production to unrestricted imports from the likes of the US and Brazil, compounded by the negative fiscal impact of the loss of import duties. The real dilemma that faces St. Lucia is the following: do we take our manufacturers by the hand and shepherd them, like a group of lemmings, to certain annihilation in the FTAA?”

Dr. Anthony said for things to appear more favourable the WTO rules would need to be adjusted to accommodate the requirements of small vulnerable states, making it unnecessary for them to provide reciprocity in FTAA with larger, more advanced countries. He went on to point out, “We are negotiating with the FTAA and the ACP-EU because we hope that agreements reached will address our inadequacies. If the price that we have to pay for the agreements is too high, resulting in net economic loss, then the remedy will be more demanding than the ailment itself.”

He ended his address to delegates by saying that St. Lucia and other like minded states wanted a satisfactory package, which adequately takes account of their size and vulnerability by providing appropriate special and differential treatment not only with NAFTA and FTAA but also in negotiating Economic Partnership Agreements with Europe.

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