Head of the European Union Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Ambassador Valeriano Diaz told the private sector in CARIFORUM countries that implementing the EPA signed between the EC and CARIFORUM countries remains a priority for the Europe Union. Ambassador Diaz said he was therefore pleased that the inaugural meeting of the Trade and Development Committee would take place in Barbados on the June 9th and 10th. His comments were made in an address to the ceremony marking the launch of the 10th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme (RPSDP). Ambassador Diaz noted that Regional Private Sector Development Programme was the first initiative to be approved under the 10th EDF EU-CARIFORUM Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme (CRIP), through which the EU was providing 165 million Euros largely to assist the region in the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed in 2008. He said that the EU and CARIFORUM were currently preparing a package of assistance to CARIFORUM and regional governments. This assistance will include:

• The overall coordination of the implementation of the EPA-agreement.

• Enacting and implementing legislation, regulations and procedures in the areas of competition law, public procurement, trade and customs.

• Enhancing the policy framework and executing a system of support measures for improving  competitiveness of agriculture and the fisheries sector.

• Improving the regional and national capacity to assist companies to comply with international regulatory requirements.

Ambassador Diaz said, “There can be no doubt that the EU remains committed to the continued thrust in making the Caribbean a viable and vibrant region for international trade and investment. We have invested a considerable amount of financial and human resources in this regard, and look forward to further successful collaboration with our partners in CARICOM/CARIFORUM, Caribbean Export, as well as other regional and national organizations and other international donors.’ He noted that in order to reap the gains of trade liberalisation, it was necessary to improve the investment climate of African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states, enhancing the technologies, human resource endowments and capacities of business support organizations and firms in these developing economies, and by extension the stimulation of increased investment flows from developed countries. In the last decade, the EU has provided approximately €41million to support stand alone private sector development projects in the Eastern Caribbean at the national and subregional levels; supplemented by €56 million in interventions delivered through budget support mechanisms. Ambassador Diaz said that at the regional level an additional €80.5 million were provided to finance two flagship programmes, namely, the 8th EDF Integrated Development Programme for the Caribbean Rum Sector and the 9th EDF Caribbean Trade and Private Sector Development Programme. The current Regional Private Sector Development Programme provides €28.3 million to Caribbean Export over five years.