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Implementation of the CARIFORUM/EU Economic Partnership Agreement

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While acknowledging that Jamaica started later than expected, the Government has taken measures to implement the tariff liberalization aspect of the CARIFORUM/EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement. The tariff liberalization will be phased over 25 years with reductions occurring biennially until 2033.

Cabinet gave approval for the necessary amendments to be made to the Customs Act in order to give formal effect to the implementation of the phased tariff reductions. In the interim, the Ministry of Finance and Planning, in September 2012, issued instructions for the immediate commencement of the first phase of the tariff reductions as outlined in the Schedules attached to the EPA. Until the Customs Act is formally amended, the tariff reductions will be made administratively by the Jamaica Customs Department and this will include the reductions now due on 1st January 2013. With the amendment of the Customs Act, the tariff reductions will continue automatically.

CARIFORUM Member States are required under the EPA to notify two Committees, the Joint CARIFORUM/EU Trade and Development Committee (TDC) of Senior Officials and the Joint CARIFORUM/EU Council of Ministers, of steps taken to implement the Agreement of which tariff reductions, allowing EU goods further access to the Jamaican market, are one of the requirements.

These Committees, along with the Joint CARIFORUM/EU Consultative Committee of non-State Actors and the CARIFORUM/EU Parliamentary Committee, are responsible for monitoring the implementation of the EPA. The TDC, which is to meet annually, had its first meeting in 2011. The Council, which meets biennially, had its first meeting in 2010. In 2011, Jamaica notified other administrative measures taken to implement the EPA.

Jamaica notified the actions taken to implement the tariff reductions to the TDC, which met on 27th September 2012 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Joint Council of Ministers, which met in Brussels, Belgium on 26th October 2012. The EU delegation to the TDC was headed by the Director General for Trade in the EU Commission’s Directorate for Trade, Mr. Peter Thompson, while that to the Council meeting was headed by the EU Trade Commissioner himself, Mr. Karel DeGucht.

A formal note informing of the action taken was sent to the EU Commission, through our Ambassador in Brussels. At the same time, the Head of the EU Delegation in Jamaica was also informed by a formal Note.

In order to make traders aware of the EPA tariff reductions, the Jamaica Customs Department, in September 2012, notified the Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association of Jamaica by letter with the intent that this information would be circulated to its Members. Further, the information was circulated internally to all Customs Officers. Additionally, the Foreign Trade Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade informed the Jamaican private sector organizations of this decision for circulation to their Members.

Jamaica has, therefore, in good faith, done what is required to effectively implement the tariff reductions as required under the EPA.

In addition, Senator, the Honourable Arnold J. Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, on 27th November 2012 at the CARIFORUM Council Meeting in the Dominican Republic, met with Mr. Christian Leffler, Director for the Americas in the EC’s European External Action Service (EEAS), and in their discussions, updated him on actions taken by Jamaica to implement the EPA. Mr. Leffler commended Jamaica on its progress towards implementing the Agreement and offered the assistance of the EU, if required. The response from the European Commission in Brussels to the actions taken by Jamaica has been appreciative and encouraging.

Jamaica and the EU have had a longstanding relationship of mutual trust, both bilaterally and through the ACP Group. The Government of Jamaica has repeatedly and publicly acknowledged the EU as its largest development partner, and has expressed its appreciation for the grant funding provided. The Government, since the signing of the EPA in 2008, has been taking the necessary measures to implement it, in spite of challenges encountered, and remains committed to implementing this Agreement. This commitment has been conveyed to the European Commission at its very highest levels.

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