Sun | Dec 17, 2017

EPA agreement will remain in place post Brexit - Johnson Smith

Published:Monday | November 20, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith says that CARIFORUM ministers are committed to ensuring that terms under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) will continue to govern CARIFORUM-United Kingdom (UK) trade arrangements after Britain's withdrawal from the European Union.

The commitment was given during talks last week in Brussels, Belgium, between the ministers of CARIFORUM nations and Greg Hands, the UK's minister of state for trade policy.

"The main outcome from the meeting with the UK minister of state for trade policy is that we have committed to ensuring that the EPA terms will govern CARIFORUM-UK trade arrangements after the UK's withdrawal from the EU," said Johnson Smith.

BENEFITS FOR BOTH

The main aim of the meeting, chaired by Johnson Smith, was to have further discussions on the UK's withdrawal from the

EU and the implications for

the CARIFORUM-UK trade relationship.

Both Johnson Smith and Hands agree that the rollover would benefit the private sector of the UK and CARIFORUM member states by ensuring continuity in market access.

A joint statement confirming the decision to work towards this objective was signed by the ministers.

"Acknowledging that the UK is not legally permitted to enter into trade negotiations with any third parties prior to its departure from the EU, rolling over existing arrangements under the EPA are a positive step providing certainty to our private sector," Johnson Smith noted.

Additionally, she said that CARIFORUM would also continue to work on expanding trade with the EU.

Johnson Smith, who is in Europe for a series of official business engagements, led the first formal interministerial discussion with the UK on the post-Brexit trading arrangements in London in March 2017.

The Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) is a subgroup of the African, Caribbean and Pacific states that are signatories of the Georgetown Agreement. This agreement was signed in 1975.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com