Former President of CAIC says region needs to change mindset to benefit from EPA

A Grenadian businessman says there needs to be a change of the mindset of the people of the region if they want to benefit from the European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

Nigel John recent past President of the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC) and managing director of the local Engineering firm Joseph John and Associates says “quite frankly the mindset is the greatest challenge”.

“There is no paucity of information available; in fact, leading up to signing, there were several engagements on island – in Grenada.”

The former CAIC president said the meetings, called ‘booth camps” were held with the private and public sector.

“However, what we find [is that] there is a reluctance to do things differently; a reluctance to embrace standards.”

John said Grenada will stand to loses greatly from the EPA trading agreement  signed with the EU, if it doesn’t improve standards and productivity levels.

“There is also a reluctance to embrace standards. It will be the greatest impediment I thing.”

“On the professional scene, there is a reluctance for Governments to regulate,” John said.

He is advocating for registration of professionals in Grenada, in order for them to meet one of the criterion of the EPA which stipulates that the region must not attempt to demand more of the European countries than they demand of themselves.

“If we’re not going to have proper registration boards set up…how are we going to ask of anyone proof of registration in their own source, if indeed we are not asking of our own because it must be non-discriminatory?”

“We cannot ask from others more than we ask from our own.”

The EPA Unit of the CARICOM Secretariat has conducted a number studies into the needs certain specific markets areas nine European Countries.

They have been appealing for businesses in CARICOM member states to utilize the information from the studies already undertaken, in order to be able to enter those markets.

They would also like to see the COMMUNITY Members indicating what other studies they would want to have done.

Fifteen CARIFORUM states in 2008 signed the European Union Economic Partnership agreement, designed to open up the market between Europe and the Caribbean and to remove trade tariffs on certain goods and services traded between the two regions.

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