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…but to not sign now would be catastrophic — AFCLeader 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.”AFC leader Raphael TrotmanPresident Bharrat JagdeoTrotman 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,Wholesale Jerseys, 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,Wholesale Jerseys, the Guyana Government held a public consultation, in which the decision to support Jagdeo’s position was reinforced.At that forum,Wholesale Cheap Jerseys, eminent Guyanese statesman Sir Shridath Ramphal had publicly stated that Caribbean governments must heed the voice of reason and pause,Cheap NFL Jerseys Store, review and renegotiate before the region’s fate is sealed by ill-advised signatures that commit to a new era of European dominion.According to Sir Shridath, at this point in time, the only response now has to be a collective one.He noted that, collectively, the stakeholders should put signing on hold until after the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States’ Summit in Accra.“Then let us, with the rest of the ACP, engage the EU…The EU needs the six EPAs even more than any one region needs it….Don’t let us sell ourselves short…There will be threats of many kinds and at many levels….But if we have unity among ourselves and with the rest of the ACP, we will prevail.”Ramphal, in his opening statement to the gathering, reiterated that when Gill initialled the EPA on December 16 last, he was just authenticating the text as that which had been negotiated, emphasizing that by that act of initialling, Caribbean countries did not become obliged under international law, treaty law (or WTO rules) to sign the EPA in that form, “or at all.”He noted that for ‘consent to be bound’ it requires a further policy decision and a formal step, which in this case is a signature. “Moreover, they are not precluded by international law, by treaty law (or WTO rules), from renegotiating that initialled agreement…This much is clear from general international law, and more specifically from the 1970 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.”At that Forum also, Karl-Friedrich Falkenburg, Deputy Director-General of Trade at the European Commission,Wholesale Jerseys Free Shipping, sought to impress upon those present, particularly President Bharrat Jagdeo, that time was running out to sign the negotiated EPA, and that it was a take-or-leave-it offer, and that Mr. Jagdeo and others would have to abide with the consequences of the decision they make.The consequences of not signing, which were highlighted at the consultations, were that if there was a refusal to sign the agreement, products being exported to the EU would have to face tariffs that would make them uncompetitive in the EU market.On the other hand, for the region to sign the agreement, it would mean the loss of a significant amount of revenue,China Jerseys Online, given that imported items that attracted a tariff would have to be liberalized.During the consultations, it was touted that if Jagdeo was to garner enough support, there may be a possibility that the EU would have to review its position.Jagdeo has long denounced several aspects of the EPA, one such being reciprocity, which, according to him, would see the EU being able to bring its services to the region to compete with its local counterparts when, in return, the region did not have any services to export to Europe that could compete there.“In trade union terms, that would be bargaining under duress.”Another contentious issue was the fact that European contractors could be bidding for projects on the local scene.



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