A special meeting of CARIFORUM Council of Ministers, March 26-27, 2018 in St. Kitts and Nevis affirmed that members of the 15-country Caribbean grouping is preparing on four fronts to adapt to a shift of relations with the European Union.
Opening the meeting, Mark Brantley, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation of Saint Kitts and Nevis said:
“We can all agree that we serve at a time when the tectonic plates on which our engagement with the European Union rest, continue to shift. It is a time which requires us simultaneously to:
- Grapple with implementation of the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA),
- Assess the impact of the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union (BREXIT), in an effort to mitigate against it,
- Ensure the roll-over of the EPA into a CARIFORUM-UK Free Trade Agreement, preserve the level of market access into the UK market as obtains under the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement and
- Consider our options for future engagement with the EU, Africa and the Pacific in the Post-Cotonou era.“
“… each of these components demands that we remain focused and strategic in our approach to engagement with key partners both in our region and in Europe,” he added.
CARIFORUM member states are: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs): Anguilla, Aruba, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands Montserrat Turks and Caicos Islands and the Netherland Antilles, all have observer status in CARIFORUM.
Minister Brantley added that CARIFORUM Member States were preparing texts for submission to the United Kingdom with the aim of preserving the current level of market access into the United Kingdom after 2019 under the Economic Partnership Agreement signed with all Member States of the EU.
He said: “We are of the view that development cooperation in the form of technical assistance, capacity building, and financial mechanisms to enable our region to capitalise on the market access opportunities resulting from free trade agreements are meritorious.”