BASSETERRE: Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas has announced that his government is seeking an extension in implementing certain measures under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) that it and other Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) countries signed with Europe in 2008.
“We would always be mindful of our international obligations and in bilateral and multilateral situations involving the EPA,” Dr. Douglas said last week during a radio interview.
Douglas, who is concerned about the consequences of implementing duty free access for European goods coming into St. Kitts & Nevis, said his country would discuss the issue with the European Union (EU).
The CARIFORUM countries (the Caribbean Community plus the Dominica Republic) made a reciprocal agreement under the EPA for the removal of tariffs and import duties on goods traded between European and CARIFORUM countries.
However, St Kitts & Nevis is among eight Caribbean countries that have not yet removed tariffs from goods coming into the country from the EU.
“Naturally we would be very concerned about the loss of revenue from the tariff that we would normally collect and we make sure as we implement these we find other ways to make up the shortfall in revenue,” said Douglas.
With the exception of the Caribbean, six other regional blocs in the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group have yet to conclude full regional EPAs since discussions began in 2002. The EU recently agreed to extend the deadline for concluding EPAs with the rest of the bloc to January 1, 2016.
Issues of concern that have delayed the process include the time frame in which ACP markets must be opened up to free trade with Europe, the extent of goods and services to be liberalized, rules and requirements for goods to enter Europe, export taxes, and numerous other key clauses in the agreements.