April 24, 2007


EC US$48M Grant for Caricom Economic Integration
By Miranda La Rose
Saturday, April 21st 2007

Caricom/Cariforum Secretary General Edwin Carrington and newly-accredited Head of the EC Delegation to Guyana, Ambassador Geert Heikens shake hands after formalising the Contribution Agreement at the Caricom Secretariat yesterday.

Caricom and the European Commission (EC) yesterday signed a Contribution Agreement for a grant of 36.9 million Euros (US$48 million) to support Caricom economic integration in six areas.

More than half of the amount - 20 million Euros - would go toward implementing the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Another component of the agreement is the support for the external trade negotiations by the CARIFORUM countries, through the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery, in particular the negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States' representation in Geneva on World Trade Organisation matters. Support in this area is pegged at 4.8 million Euros.

The allocation to support the establishment and operation of the Caribbean Institute of Translation and Information (CRITI) to be located in Suriname is 1.7 million Euros; and support for the improvement and harmonized production of economic and statistical data at the regional and national levels in Caricom is 3.3 million Euros.

General institutional support to the Caricom Secretariat is 3.1 million Euros; support for the development of the Caricom Information and Communication Society, 2 million Euros; and support for the reduction of supply and demand for illegal drugs is 1.2 million Euros.

The Contribution Agreement is part of a 40.5 million Euros financing agreement that Edwin Carrington, Caricom Secre-tary General also acting on behalf of CARIFORUM signed with the European Union Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid in Brussels, Belgium in January this year.

The funds come from the Ninth European Development Fund (EDF) Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme.

At yesterday's signing ceremony held at the Caricom Secretariat, Turkeyen, Carrington, signed on behalf of Cariforum while newly-accredited Head of Delegation of the European Commission to Guyana, Geert Heikens signed on behalf of the EC.

In brief remarks Heikens noted that the agreement, which gives Caricom greater ownership and more direct management of the funds, makes the EC one of the largest, "if not the largest" donor to Caricom.

Noting that the principal objective of the programme was to advance regional integration and some 20 million Euros was going towards the establishment and consolidation of the CSME, he said the EU's experience has shown the great benefits that could be enjoyed from being a regional body of countries working for common objectives.

He appreciated the move to establish the Information and Translation Institute to deal with the needs of the region which has four different official languages, noting that the EU has the challenge of coping with 21 official languages.

One major opportunity for greater integration, he noted, would be to bring Haiti further into the Caricom fold and the Dominican Republic closer. He said the EC welcomed the inclusion of the Dominican Republic staff in the Caricom Secretariat.

Noting the support going towards EPA negotiations he said he would "strongly encourage the region (to conclude the agreement) because it is a useful and necessary development instrument which will support you in building up intra- and extra-regional markets; it represents the best way of replacing existing trade preferences that are coming to an end under WTO rules; and the commission mindful of the needs of the region, is prepared to be flexible in allowing implementation at a staggered pace with possibly some exceptions for sensitive products."

In addition, he said that the EU has just made "the generous offer to allow duty free access of all ACP goods into the EU, with a transitional period for rice and sugar."

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