AG wants regionalism as a pillar of EPA laws

Antigua Observer | Thursday, April 14th, 2011

AG wants regionalism as a pillar of EPA laws

Attorney General Justin Simon has called for regional integration to be a key component of laws being designed to implement the European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EU EPA).

Speaking at the launch here of a two-day seminar for legislative drafters on the EPA, Simon yesterday urged the legal minds to encourage regional co-operation in accessing the benefits of the EPA.

“The CARIFORUM-EC EPA covers, among others things, trade in goods, investment and trade in services, competition policy, innovation and intellectual property, transference in public procurement, environment and social aspects and personal data protection, but more importantly the EPA speaks to regional integration as an integral element of the partnership and a powerful instrument to achieve the objectives of the agreement,” Simon said.

He challenged legislative drafters to share his vision. “I consider this statement to be a fundamental expression of the context within which implementing legislation should be framed. I therefore … ask that you keep that beacon of regional integration in the forefront always as you’re inspiration and your guide during your legislative drafting exercises,” Simon said.

The two-day seminar for legislative drafters on the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) for Legislative Drafters is being organized by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat.

The forum brings together legislative drafters of the CCARIFORUM States, to interface with technocrats of the EPA Implementation Unit of the Caricom Secretariat and regional legal experts. Each CARIFORUM State has been invited to nominate one participant.

The CARIFORUM-EU EPA places new responsibilities on CARIFORUM states, with respect to undertaking market-opening and rules-related commitments. These commitments relate to trade in goods, trade in services and investment, as well as in trade-related subject areas, such as intellectual property, competition and government procurement. Legislative measures are necessary in many cases.

Against this backdrop, the seminar seeks to clarify the provisions of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA, point to obligations CARIFORUM States have undertaken and identify elements of the agreement, which will require the introduction of national legislation.

“The seminar is designed to benefit legislative drafters, in particular those who will be tasked with preparing legislation to give effect to provisions of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA,” said Alexis Downes-Amsterdam, legal officer in the EPA Implementation Unit.

Downes-Amsterdam added, “the seminar’s convening has also been given impetus by the EPA Implementation Unit’s commitment to strengthening engagement with legislative drafters of the CARIFORUM States, as the EPA implementation process moves apace.”

Downes-Amsterdam – the point person in the Unit for the upcoming seminar – is tasked with assisting CARIFORUM States with the legal measures to be adopted to give effect to their respective EPA commitments, in particular the provision of legislative drafting assistance.

The 15 signatory Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific (CARIFORUM) States to the EPA are the independent CARICOM Member States and the Dominican Republic.