Guyana One Man Stance Against EPA Agreement

….But not to sign now would be castastrophic – AFC 

 Photo credit – Kaieteur News

Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Raphael Trotman, says that while President Bharrat Jagdeo’s stance on the EPA is commendable, it should have commenced a long time ago.
He added that it is good to see that the national spirit of the country is with the President; but, “On the other hand, we have to be careful of the impact of standing alone…The world is moving towards political and economic blocs.”

Trotman noted that for Guyana to be left standing alone, isolated from the many blocs, it would place the country in a very precarious position.
Meanwhile, party chairman Khemraj Ramjattan added that, given that the other CARIFORUM countries have committed to signing, it would be a catastrophy for Guyana not to sign. He pointed out that the country’s rum, rice and sugar would suffer seriously from the tariffs they would have to endure that would make them uncompetitive.
Jagdeo says that he will hold out for a ‘goods only’ agreement with the European Union for as long as possible.
CARIFORUM leaders met at a Special Meeting of Heads in Barbados on September 10 to discuss the way forward on the controversial EPA, and subsequently agreed to sign by the end of October.
According to Jagdeo, signing a deal governing the trade of services will swing the pendulum in Europe’s favour.
He was pressing for the regional leaders to unite and pause to further scrutinize the services aspect of the deal, “Europe cannot bring sanctions if we collectively pause.”
The Barbadian Head of State, David Thompson, however, debunked Jagdeo’s call, saying that the time for pausing has ended. “Pausing will be thief of time.”
Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding, says that he was ready to sign the EPA despite the fact that there were some lingering concerns in his country.
The concerns, however, were not enough, he said, to cause him to not sign.
“Did we get what we want? No…Did we get a good agreement? Yes…Could we have gotten a better deal? …I doubt it.”
He also added that he did not believe that re-negotiating another deal was possible.
Golding also emphasized the dangers of CARIFORUM exports being subject to the Global System of Preferences, and questioned whether the region could afford to have its exports subjected to 20 per cent duties.
He noted that the region could not withstand the duties. “Those who are saying let’s not sign must address the question of what to do with exports that will be un-competitive when it attracts the duties.”
Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, noted that the concerns raised by Jagdeo were valid, but he posited that he would have to sign sooner or later.
Recently, the Guyana Government held a public consultation, in which the decision to support Jagdeo’s position was reinforced.



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