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CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Fourth meeting of the Joint CARIFORUM-EU Council

Africa, Caribbean, Pacific | Brussels, 17 November 2017

Joint Communiqué

1. The Fourth Meeting of the Joint CARIFORUM-EU Council under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) took place in Brussels, Belgium, on 17 November 2017. The Meeting was co-chaired by Ms. Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Trade and by Mr. Sven Mikser, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia and representing the EU Council. The CARIFORUM delegation included Ministers of CARIFORUM States and was led by Senator the Honourable Ms. Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Jamaica. EU Member States were also present.

2. The Joint CARIFORUM-EU Council is the highest body of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA and is vested with the responsibility of supervising the implementation of the EPA. The Council meets every two years for political discussion and to provide ministerial guidance for EPA implementation. The Meeting noted the recommendations emanating from the Third Meeting of the CARIFORUM-EU Parliamentary Committee, held on 31 October - 1 November 2017 in Trinidad and Tobago and the Third Meeting of the CARIFORUM-EU Consultative Committee, held on 6-7 November 2017 in Trinidad and Tobago, which reflect the important role those Committees have in EPA implementation and communication.

3. The Meeting received an EPA Implementation Progress Report from, and commended the performance of, the CARIFORUM-EU Trade and Development Committee, the main subsidiary Joint Institution of the EPA, charged with overseeing, reviewing and supporting the implementation of the Agreement.

4. The Fourth Meeting provided an opportunity for the two Sides to consider the operation and implementation of the EPA since the Third Meeting which took place on 16 July 2015 in Guyana. Taking stock of EPA implementation, the Meeting noted the status of ratification of the EPA and urged those States that had not yet done so to urgently ratify the Agreement. The Meeting however acknowledged that while significant progress has been made on key implementation issues, including development cooperation and, agriculture and fisheries, challenges remain in other important areas of implementation such as services and cultural cooperation, and urged both Sides to work towards finding effective solutions.

5. Recalling a key finding of the first Five Year Review of the EPA that the conversion of market access offered by the Agreement into meaningful market presence remains a major challenge for CARIFORUM’s services suppliers, the two Sides also discussed ongoing impediments with respect to market access and market presence. In this regard, it was agreed to establish a Special Committee on Trade in Services to address all trade matters related to services.

6. The Meeting highlighted the need for effective CARIFORUM access to EU goods and services markets, and adequate flanking measures. Both Sides also saw enhanced communication and awareness raising on the EPA as a key task and reaffirmed their commitment to coordinate efforts geared towards scaling-up knowledge and awareness on the opportunities and benefits of the EPA.

7. The Meeting achieved progress on outstanding implementing decisions, notably the general list of arbitrators required for dispute settlement under the EPA. The Meeting also noted the recent establishment of the Special Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries as a positive development and expressed satisfaction with the ongoing progress at the technical level regarding the protection of geographical indications.

8. Both Sides stressed the importance of implementing a joint mechanism for EPA monitoring, with the objective of having it in place in time to inform the second five year review of the EPA, scheduled for 2020.

9. The Meeting discussed development support for EPA implementation, welcoming the Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme, valued at €346 million, which has recently come on stream.

10. The Meeting called on the Trade and Development Committee and its Special Committees to continue making progress according to the recommendations of the Five Year Review, including implementation of all outstanding mandates of the Third Meeting of the Joint CARIFORUM-EU Council.

11. The Meeting expressed its deepest sympathy with the victims of the hurricanes that battered the Caribbean in recent months.  

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