Antigua and Barbuda’s Trade Minister, E.P Chet Greene, is encouraging local businesses to grab the numerous opportunities available for exporting to the European Union (EU) through the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
At the launch of a Caribbean Development Bank-EU project aimed at enhancing the private sector’s ability to increase exports under the EPA, Greene expressed his belief that businesses, particularly Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), have not yet fully taken advantage of the opportunities provided by the EPA.
Despite the challenges faced by MSMEs, such as the increasing cost of freight, oil, and supply chain disruptions, the trade minister emphasized that businesses can still thrive in both regional and global markets.
Greene stressed the importance of empowering local businesses in Antigua and Barbuda to drive economic growth, with the bilateral agreement with the EU providing access to a market for trading goods and services.
He expressed appreciation for the EU as a vital partner in Antigua and Barbuda’s pursuit of progress through the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement and other development cooperation instruments at the national and regional levels.
The EPA offers opportunities for local businesses to export not only manufactured goods and agricultural products to the EU but also services.
Moreover, the Agreement facilitates cooperation, including the establishment of joint ventures with like-minded businesses for the supply of raw materials and the movement of goods.
The trade minister underlined that the EPA provides valuable development cooperation assistance to MSMEs, which is integrated into different provisions of the Agreement.
Overall, he encouraged local businesses to leverage the opportunities presented by the EPA to enhance the economy of Antigua and Barbuda.
“One way to achieve this goal is by encouraging our private sector entities to access the EU market and take advantage of the opportunities presented by the EPA. This will not only benefit our businesses but also contribute to the overall growth and development of our economy,” Greene said
He said Additionally, the findings of the 10 Year Evaluation Study undertaken by the European Commission in 2021, highlighted that there were major export disparities in trade in goods between the EU and CARIFORUM during the period 2008 – 2018.
Some of the related disparities were as a consequence of limited awareness, low productive capacity and investment, according to Greene, who said that the project therefore seeks to provide targeted interventions, aimed at, among other things, increased promotion and awareness activities about the EPA to our business community.
“Through the project, we further solidify our commitment to strengthening the partnership between our MSMEs, local Business Support Organisations and EU firms.
The technical assistance to be provided will prioritize transfer of technology, innovation and targeted capacity-building initiatives, tools that are necessary in enabling MSMEs to overcome existing export and market access barriers.
“The Gaston Browne Administration is cognizant of the importance of MSMEs in creating employment, generating wealth, enhancing revenue streams, and alleviating poverty. Therefore, the project is critical to strengthening the capacity of BSOs to support the export development of Antigua and Barbuda” Greene said