Caribbean Political Economy

The Caribbean EPA Five Years After, Joyce Van Genderen-Naar

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December 16, 2012 marks the fifth anniversary of the conclusion of negotiations of the CARIFORUM-EC Economic Partnership Agreement. During this time the controversies over the Caribbean EPA have not abated. In her review for the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly meeting held in Suriname last month, Joyce Van Genderen-Naar raises questions about the ratification and provisional application of the EPA, points to the losses of revenue and the preference erosion facing Caribbean countries, and discloses the major differences that have erupted between Caribbean and European officials over the tariff liberalisation schedules.

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The WTO-EPA-CSME Interface, P.J. Patterson

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Text of address by Most Hon. P.J. Patterson,  former Prime Minister of Jamaica, in which he makes some critical observations  about the Economic Partnership Agreement between the Caribbean and the European Union which was signed in 2008.

Text of Patterson address

ALBA and CARICOM: Paradoxes and Problematique, Norman Girvan

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Presented at a Conference on ALBA and the Future of Regional Integration held at London Metropolitan University, January 29, 2011; the presentation explores issues arising out of the simultaneous membership of three Caribbean countries in ALBA, the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union; and assesses ALBA’s claims to represent a superior alternative to neoliberal integration schemes that is based on solidarity and cooperation. Issues raised include the compatibility of simultaneous membership in schemes that are so different from one another; whether ALBA represents an alternative to the other two; ideological vs. financial motivation; and ‘asymmterical’ vs. ‘non-reciopocated’ solidarity.

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Conference Programme and Abstracts

London Metropolitan University Hosts First ALBA-PTA Conference Report on

The CARIFORUM-EC EPA in the media 2007-2008, Norman Girvan

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A selection of over 300 media items on the EPA published at the height of the controversy in 2007 and 2008.

Click here for EPA in the media 2007-2008

Public Procurement: The Development Dimension and the EPA, Norman Girvan

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Public Procurement links the issues of good governance and of economic development.The current preoccupation with eliminating corruption and securing best value for taxpayers’ money should not be allowed to obscure the equally important role of public procurement in fostering new industries and development of technological capabilities…

Click here for Pioneering Procurement

Click here for Public Procurement: The Development Dimension and The EPA (slide presentation)

European trade neocolonialism in the Caribbean, Norman Girvan

Interviewed for, Girvan speaks critically on the E.U.-driven economic partnership agreement (EPA) with Caribbean countries known as the CARIFORUM, an agreement pushed by E.U. trade negotiators especially after the dissolution of the WTO negotiations in Cancun, Mexico. He offers perspectives on the relationship between current European trade policy in the Caribbean and European legacy of colonization in the region, highlighting the colonial echoes seen today in European trade policy in the Caribbean. — Stefan Christoff

Listen to interview by clicking here

West Africa’s EPA Development Programme: Lessons for the Caribbean, Norman Girvan

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West African nations have proposed a Development Programme as the framework for their EPA negotiations with Europe. There may be a lesson here for us in the Caribbean…

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Gender Effects of EPAs in Jamaica, Africa

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Gender Justice in Trade Policy: The gender effects of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)

One World Action and the Commonwealth Secretariat recently published the report: Gender Justice in Trade Policy: The gender effects of Economic Partnership Agreements [1]. Based on the goods tariff liberalisation schedules agreed in Jamaica, Tanzania and Mozambique, this research provides the first detailed economy-wide analysis of the likely gender effects of EPAs…

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Jamaica Case Study

Communication on EPAs in Africa, Yash Tandon

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Yash Tandon, one of Africa’s leading political economists, points out that “The primary responsibility for fighting against what is manifestly an asymmetrical, unfair treaty lies with ourselves (from Africa)”.,   He calls on his African colleagues to learn from the Caribbean EPA experience.

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Meaning of Trade in Services Rules, Jane Kelsey

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This section of the toolkit provides a basic guide to the meaning of some key terms and practical examples of what they involve…

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Understanding ‘Trade in Services’, Jane Kelsey

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Traditionally trade means the movement of goods across borders. Free trade rules focused on government measures that restrict the international flow of goods, mainly by taxes (tariffs) at the border, import licenses, quotas, etc…

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Understanding Cariforum’s Commitments in Services and Investment, Jane Kelsey

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The following step-by-step guide is intended to assist people to interpret a country’s trade in services commitments as set out in schedules of commitments to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) at the WTO and under the CARIFORUM-EC EPA..

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Some Lessons of the Cariforum-EU EPA, Norman Girvan

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From Trade Negotiations Insights • Volume 8 • Number 8 • October 2009.

[Abridged version of,   The Caribbean EPA Affair: Lesons for for the Progressive Movement]

The CARIFORUM-EU EPA, which was initialled in December 2007 and signed in October 2008, precipitated one of the most intense public debates in the recent history of the Caribbean Community (Caricom). At the core of the controversy lay differing views amongst Caribbean elites on development strategy, trade policy, regional integration, and the manner of engaging with globalisation. This paper suggests some ‘lessons learnt’ from the negotiation process itself and from the efforts of civil society to secure review and renegotiation of the initialled text. It employs a political economy approach that considers issues of ideology, power, governance and politics…

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The Caribbean EPA Affair: Lessons for the Progressive Movement


by Norman Girvan

Abstract: This paper discusses lessons for the regional progressive movement of the 2007-2008 campaign of Caricom civil society to secure public review and government renegotiation of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA. To this end it highlights the role of ideology, power, governance and politics. It argues that the EPA institutionalises a relationship of asymmetrical power with the European Union based on the principles of neoliberal globalisation; and that it was secured through the manipulation of ‘divide and conquer’ and ‘carrot and stick’ strategies together with an ideologically driven framework for the negotiations,  that portrayed neoliberal policies as being automatically conducive to development.,  The protest movement succeeded in exposing the agreement to public scrutiny and debate and,  helped to secure insertion of a mandatory review clause in the final agreement. It failed to obtain a complete renegotiation of the EPA:,  the reasons include the absence of a strong regional political base and organisational capability, the amorphous character of Cariforum/Caricom governance; and the,  enormous external and internal pressures exerted on governments to sign what had been negotiated. Three techniques employed in the EPA process are highlighted: ‘technification’ of the negotiation process as an instrument of mystification and political exclusion; ‘sweetification’ of the presumed benefits of the EPA in order to facilitate political acceptance; and ‘treatyfication’ of the outcome of the negotiations in order,  to bind present and future government policies. These techniques may have salience in the politics of trade agreements in other countries and regions. The paper concludes by summarising lessons in the light of the possibility of modifying the EPA in the future and of upcoming negotiations with other trading partners involving issues similar to those that were contentious in the EPA.

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EPA May Limit Ability to Respond to Crisis, Sanya Reid Smith

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Trade Negotiations Insights, 8(4), April 2009

The CARIFORUM-European Commission EPA title on services and investment appears to be a template for the European Commission EPAs for all regions so it will be used as the basis for this analysis. With respect to financial services in particular, there are a number of provisions that may make it difficult to prevent future crises and to effectively deal with the current crisis…

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Assessment of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA, ECLAC

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The objective of this review is to shed some light on the issues driving (the EPA) debate particularly in the areas of market access, the impact on tariff revenues, and the implications for regional integration…

Click here for ECLAC Assessment of the EPA

The View from the Rear-View Mirror, Havelock Brewster


Sir George Alleyne, Chancellor of the Universirty of the West Indies, presents the Degree of Doctor of Laws , Honoris Causa to Ambassador Havelock Brewster at the UWI Mona,   Campus on November 7, 2008. Following is Ambassador Brewster’s address to the Graduating Class.

Forty years ago, (the work of UWI social scientists) was greeted not as the ” first port of call for regional leadership”, but with unprecedented hostility. The authors were hounded as communists, Marxists revolutionaries, conspirators with Fidel Castro, at best lunatics. The would-be reformers had passports seized, some expelled from the country, fired, threatened, and one assassinated…

Full address

Citation for Havelock’s Honorary Doctorate

For a functioning, participatory, Caribbean Democracy Stabroek News 17/11/08


Assembly of Caribbean People Declaration on the EPA

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The Economic Partnership Agreement is a Dangerous Neo-Liberal Project and is not in the Interest of the Peoples of the Caribbean. Renegotiate the EPA.

Click here for Assembly of Caribbean People EPA Declaration

Caribbean Integration and ‘Global Europe’, Norman Girvan

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Implications of the EPA for the CSME

A critical assessment of the compatibility of the CARIFORUM-EC EPA with the proposed Caricom Single Market and Economy—CSME. Discuses cross-cutting compatibility issues: development strategy and the role of regional integration, policy space and governance; and sectoral compatibility issues relate to trade in goods, services and trade-related issues. Concludes that the CSME, a project for the creation/strengthening of the regional economy for engagement with globalisation; will be superseded by the EPA, which involves a high degree of bilateral integration of individual Cariforum countries with Europe in trade, investment and regulatory policies. Suggests how the EPA could be modified to resolve the dilemma and to increase its effectiveness as an instrument of development and regional integration.


Caricom’s Development Vision and the EPA: A Fork in the Road, Norman Girvan

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Public Lecture, UWI, Cave Hill, Barbados, April 18, 2008

We are at fork in the road in Caricom’s development. One path, represenented by the shape and content of the EPA, leads to greater differentiation, fragmentation and loss of autonomy for the region …the other path leads to greater integration, gradual convergence of core living standards and citizens’ economic social and political rights, and greater autonomy, that is to say greater capacity to chart our own way in this world with dignity and self-determination. That path is represented by the CSME, with all its deficits of participation and implementation and other imperfections; by the Single Development Vision…

Text of lecture

PPT Presentation

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