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					President still adamant EPA bad for the region, Barbados PM stresses
importance of development financing-at 13th GM&SA Award ceremony
Georgetown, GINA, November 1, 2008

Speaking at the 13th annual Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GM&SA)
Awards ceremony at Thirst Park, Ruimveldt last evening, President Bharrat Jagdeo
reminded business persons at the forum about the possible dire effects the global
financial crisis could have on the Caribbean Region and the need for more focus and
debate on the issue, as well as the need for development financing for the Region.
         “We have to, as a collective, start thinking through the problems and that is what I
don’t get, the sense that that is happening enough,” he lamented.
    He noted that academicians have not been generating enough thoughts on the matter.
         “Our academics should be thinking this through, our policy institutions should be
debating this every single day. This should be the topic of debate of all private sector
organizations because it’s not only a major problem now and will hit us in the near
future, but it is an environment that you’d have to contend with throughout your business
life, so you should do this and at the political level and the regional level I feel we’re not
acting enough in concert at this point in time,” he stressed.
         According to the Guyanese Leader, if all of the above suggestions are taken into
consideration, firewalls could be built to cushion the impact of the crisis.
         “It would not stop every impact of the crisis but it would be made up of well
thought out, appropriate responses.”
         Prime Minister of Barbados, David Thompson who was the guest speaker at the
event and who had addressed the forum prior to the President, had cited the need for
collaboration in the region.
         “The collaboration of the regional development agent with links in the Caribbean
Development Fund as well as the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat should build the cadre of specialists in
our region who are dedicated to building a regional capacity for greater domestic
production of goods and services,” he emphasized.
         On this note, the Prime Minister pointed to the recently signed Economic
Partnership Agreement (EPA) between CARIFORUM countries and the European Union
(EU) which he said is founded on deepening regional integration.
         “Among the commitments agreed to by the signatories in the pursuit of greater
levels of cooperation across the region, a regional development fund has also been agreed
on to finance programmes under the provisions of the EPA for further economic
development in the Caribbean region,” the Barbadian Prime Minister added.
         He pointed to the priority areas of the fund which include business development
and enterprise competitiveness in investment promotion and mobilization.
         “The EU member States, the EU investment Bank, other investment partners and
the international financial institutions are expected to contribute to the fund. Essentially,
these funds are directed to the building of regional capacity for the export of goods and
services beyond the region,” he said, noting that regional development financing is an
imperative if the region is to charter its own development plan.
However, President Jagdeo, while agreeing with the Barbadian Prime Minister on the
importance of development financing said he still believes that the EPA, which Guyana
reluctantly signed onto, is not good for the region and the Region could have done better
in its negotiations on the Agreement.
         “I’m prepared to contest that in so many ways…from the perspective of the
provision of development financing, from the opportunity that it creates to how
asymmetric it has been, to how much we have given up that we didn’t need to give up
because they didn’t have to be WTO (World Trade Organisation) compatible…so even
the services area, what we have done effectively, we don’t have services to export, we
have given the Europeans access to our markets,” he stressed.
         He noted though that he was at least satisfied that through his efforts, two
safeguard clauses were included in the Agreement.
         Last evening’s ceremony saw a number of reputable manufacturing agencies
being given awards for their work.
         The Beharry Group of Companies received the President’s Award for export
achievements.

				
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