St. Kitts – Nevis Citizens To Benefit From EPA
Basseterre, St. Kitts
November 12, 2008 (SKNIS)
A senior official in the Ministry of Trade has called on nationals of St. Kitts and Nevis to become familiar with the terms of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and position to take advantage of the opportunities that exist.
Trade Policy Advisor, Samuel Berridge, told SKNIS that the free trade agreement between the CARIFORUM and European Commission offers many advantages that can be accessed by the ordinary man on the road.
“The EPA is a free trade agreement and it covers trading in goods and services. It covers investment, and there is also a chapter on development cooperation, E-commerce, intellectual property and financial services,” Mr. Berridge explained.
While admitting that the large scale trading of goods may not be practical for small local companies to engage in, Mr. Berridge said “We can find little niches in the market, and we can produce goods and send them to Europe via St. Maarten, Martinique and Guadeloupe. People tend to forget that [part of] Europe is right in the Caribbean. Martinique and Guadeloupe are essentially France, so we can actually send our produce to Europe,” he noted.
With respect to service provision, the trade policy advisor suggested that the region conceivably stands to gain significantly.
“Our contractual workers can actually go to Europe and provide services on a temporary basis and return [to their respective territories],” Mr. Berridge stated, adding that persons involved in the field of cultural arts can also seize on the demand for Caribbean-themed performers. He added that the intellectual property rights included in the EPA will also serve local and regional music artistes well.
“There is also a significant envelope of technical and financial assistance to help small service companies but of course, there is some responsibility on the part of the providers [who] will have to create and present proposals in a project format in order to draw down these resources.
“That is why the Ministry of Trade and Industry reiterates the point to small service providers to come together and form associations which will add to the thrust of establishing a national coalition of service industries,” the government official stressed.
While most countries in the region operate under the EPA as a provisional application, Trade Policy Officer, Cosbert Woods, in the Ministry of Trade indicated that the agreement was ratified in St. Kitts and Nevis in late October, 2008.