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Posted in: Communiques by admin | 23 October 2007 | Release Ref #: 253/2007 | 3266

    The Ministers of the Caribbean Forum of the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) States CARIFORUM held their Fifteenth Meeting in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on 18-19 October 2007.

    The Ministers reiterated the Region’s dismay at the European Commission’s unilateral denunciation of the Sugar Protocol on 30 September 2007.

    They also requested that given the extreme importance of the Banana Industry to the Region, serious consideration be given to negotiating for the extension of financial support to this Sector beyond 2009.

    The Ministers agreed to the Commission’s proposal that 132 million of the 165 million euros allocated to CARIFORUM under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Programming would be applied to the Indicative Programmes in the CARIFORUM proposal with 33 million euros allocated directly to EPA participation and commitment making.

    The 132 million euros would be programmed in such a way that 85 percent would go to the Focal Area of Regional Cooperation/Integration and EPA Capacity Building, and 15 percent would go to the non-focal area of vulnerabilities and social issues.

    The focal areas are OECS Economic Integration and Trade, CARICOM Economic Integration and Trade, Intra-CARIFORUM Economic and Social Cooperation, EPA Participation and Commitments, CARIFORUM/DOM/OCT/EU/LAC Economic Cooperation and Trade, as well as Human Resource Development and Capacity Building.

    The Non Focal Area of Vulnerabilities and Social Issues include Disaster and Environment Management, Crime and Security, Support for Non-State Actors and Institutional Support and Programme Implementation.

    The Ministers urged that the text with respect to the focal sector be re-examined to take account of: a revision of the provision for the consolidation of the Single Economy; the recommendation from the Commission to strengthen the EU/LAC component and for support of the ACS agenda. The Ministers also urged that the Commission’s proposal to merge some elements of human resource development and capacity building into the EPA be included in the text.

    The Ministers expressed CARIFORUM’s appreciation to the European Commission for its decision to place all unspent balances of the National “B” envelopes of the 9th EDF in a “regionalised” B envelope but requested that the EC urgently provide to CARIFORUM information in respect of the value of resources in the proposed Regionalised B envelope and the timing for the design and finalisation of the B envelope Proposal.

    They mandated the CARIFORUM Secretariat to work closely with the Commission on the design of the B envelope programme to ensure that the programmes to be developed took care of the interest of CARIFORUM Member States;

    The Ministers requested that the EC provide urgent information to CARIFORUM in respect of an appropriate timing for the approval and signing of a financing agreement in respect of the 9th EDF Phase II Caribbean Trade and Private Sector Development Programme.

    They agreed to the establishment of a Sub-Committee which would continue to exist until an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) had been signed. Its remit would be to assist in the negotiation of the 10th EDF Regional Strategy Paper and Regional Indicative Programme with the Commission and to advise the Secretariat on the technical submission to be made to the Commission.

    The membership of the Sub-Committee would comprise one joint representative from the group encompassing the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC), the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL), and the Caribbean Employers Confederation (CEC); a representative of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM) a representative of Antigua and Barbuda; a representative of Guyana or Suriname; a representative of the Dominican Republic or Haiti; and representatives of the CARICOM Secretariat.

    The Ministers mandated the CARIFORUM Secretariat to prepare a revised version of the Regional Strategy Paper and Regional Indicative Programme based on the outcome of the Ministerial meeting. They also urged Member States that have not yet done so, to ratify the revised Cotonou Agreement in order to have the 10th EDF entered into force at the requisite time.

    The Ministers expressed support for the Regional Disaster and Environmental Management Fund (RDEMF) and authorised the Secretariat to engage the Commission in the articulation of its structure and operation.

    The Ministers agreed that a CARIFORUM Infrastructure Fund should be pursued in the context of the EPA and should include coverage of the Departments Outre Mers (DOMs) and the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs). They instructed the CARIFORUM Secretariat to arrange for a feasibility study to be conducted on such a fund and recommended that the Secretariat should consult the African Group of states within the ACP to see how they established their Infrastructure Fund.

    The Ministers directed the CRNM to follow the instructions given by the Heads of State and Government of CARIFORUM to strengthen the Development Chapter of the Draft EPA Legal Text. They urged CARIFORUM Member States to assist the CRNM through participating in initiatives leading to the strengthening of the Development Chapter of the EPA Draft Legal Text.

    With respect to the CARIFORUM Cultural Support Fund the Ministers agreed that the Directors of Culture of CARIFORUM should discuss the matter and offer recommendations to the Ministers.