The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) has partnered with the Small Business Association (SBA) of Barbados to host a two-day workshop on leveraging the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Over 50 exporters from across the region gathered at the Radisson Aquatica Resort to hear from experts from the European Union, Caribbean Export, and the SBA of Barbados on the tools available to support the growth of their export businesses while leveraging the EPA.
A central theme to the dialogue, as highlighted by Senator Lynette Holder, CEO of the SBA of Barbados, in her opening remarks, was the importance of strategic partnerships. Holder called for businesses to work together to reap the benefits of the EPA.
The CARIFORUM-EU EPA was developed to facilitate integration and regional cooperation; further, the EPA supports enhanced sustainable growth, increased production, and supply capacity. Sandra Husbands, the Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade with the government of Barbados, echoed Holder’s sentiment: “We cannot do this alone. Not as individual companies, not as individual islands or countries; but rather we must do this together.” The overall objective of the EPA is the sustainable development of the ACP States and their integration into the world economy and the eradication of poverty.
Speaking about the workshop in general, Minister Husbands charged that, “This is a vital part of the strategy toward attaining export-led economic growth and this is what is needed in Barbados at this time.” The Minister went on to encourage the participating companies to take advantage of the workshop to discover a mechanism that allows participants to work together in groups and in teams to leverage the benefits of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA.
The EPA is the most comprehensive agreement between the EU and the ACP and remains a flagship for the European Union making its successful implementation a priority, informed Filipe de la Mota, Head of the Regional Section at the EU Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. “Increased attention has been, and will continue to be, placed on those areas required to assist CARIFORUM States and the regional private sector in maximizing the benefits and mitigating the challenges presented by the integration efforts” he noted.
“One of the EPA’s main objectives is to promote economic growth within the region with the aim to increase chances for Caribbean businesses to participate in global value chains and support the conditions for increasing investment in private sector initiatives, enhancing supply capacity and competitiveness in CARIFORUM States,” he added. “We strongly believe that strengthening competitiveness and trade capacity will ensure stronger supply chains in succeeding in the global market and effectively contribute to sustainable development.”