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Support to Enhance the Implementation of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA

Posted on: October 27, 2017

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In January 2017, the EPA Implementation Unit of the CARIFORUM Directorate with the support of the TradeCom II Programme of the ACP launched a programme to provide support for implementation of the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The programme has several components serving two primary purposes:
1.    Enhance the legal and regulatory environment in CARIFORUM States to foster an enabling environment for economic growth; and
2.    Strengthen capacity in the EPA Implementation Unit to facilitate the effective implementation of the EPA.

Creating a legal regime to facilitate free movement of architects within CARICOM
CARIFORUM member states have committed to the recognition of professional qualifications across the region. Qualified professionals who are nationals of one CARIFORUM member have the right to provide their services in another member state. A legal regime is needed to reduce or minimize the barriers to transferring professional qualifications from one country to the next.
Under this programme component, a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) of professional qualifications of architects across CARIFORUM has been drafted. This Agreement will be the first of its kind in CARIFORUM .
The essential contents of the MRA had been previously negotiated by the architects of the region through a representative body, Caribbean Architects Mutual Recognition Committee (CAMRAC). The MRA creates a harmonised standard for the professional qualifications that a registered CARIFORUM architect seeking to practice in another CARIFORUM country is required to meet. The harmonised standard is informed by international requirements as this MRA is also to serve as a preparatory instrument to engage in negotiations with the European Union (and conceivably other countries/regions) for the mutual recognition of the professional qualifications of CARICOM/CARIFORUM architects. The Agreement does not change the requirements for registration by an architect in his or her national jurisdiction. Adoption of the finalized MRA by CARIFORUM countries will require the Registration Boards in CARIFORUM countries to recognize the qualifications of architects within CARIFORUM who meet the requirements of the MRA.

The Profession Service Regulation Bill for the registration of architects has been prepared under this project component and is under consideration by States. The draft model bill incorporates policy elements adopted by CARIFORUM since many of the existing laws were enacted: (i) requirement for annual licensing by registered architects; (ii) requirements for professional development and, where feasible, professional indemnity insurance; (iii) use of fees collected by the Registration Board to fund its operations; and (iv) requirement for a professional code of conduct, which a 2013 survey of the architecture profession indicated that the code was in use in only about 50% of CARIFORUM States. The provisions in the draft model bill containing these new policy elements can be used to amend the law of those States with an existing framework to regulate the practice of architecture.

In addition to the Profession Service Regulation Bill, four other model bills have been revised under the Programme:
1. Immigration (Entry and Temporary Stay) of EU Service Suppliers
2. Telecommunications Regulatory [Commission/Authority]
3. Interconnection and Access to Facilities
4. International Maritime Transport Services

In order to better assist the States to review the revised bill a summary report of the decisions taken on each draft bill is under preparation.

Improved Transparency for Movement of Goods under the EPA
Another programme component has been supporting the process of updating the tariff schedules which implement the EPA liberalization commitments of CARIFORUM States. The tariff codes used when the EPA was signed in 2008 have been updated to 2017 tariff codes (HS 2017). The updated tariff schedule will also indicate the phase-out periods (ending in 2033) by CARIFORUM States of tariffs on EU imported products.
The updated tariff codes will also allow government officials, traders and other entrepreneurs to have accurate and precise information as to the treatment of goods traded under the EPA.

Supporting Development of Capacity to Monitor the EPA
In Article 5 of the EPA, the EU and the CARIFORUM States agreed to continuously monitor the operation of the Agreement. The purpose of this ongoing monitoring is to ensure that the Agreement is being properly implemented and the anticipated benefits from the Agreement for public sector, business community and the populace in general are maximised.
Under this programme component, a draft framework to achieve this objective has been designed. This framework is intended to serve as CARIFORUM’s proposal towards creation of a joint CARIFORUM-EU monitoring mechanism for the EPA.
The draft framework has factored in two key considerations:
1)    The need to build on existing monitoring frameworks used by other regional organisations. This was important to minimize the additional work burden and use of limited resources in designing and implementing the framework; and
2)    Incorporate ongoing feedback from the CARIFORUM States as implementers of the monitoring framework.
The framework proposes to assess the EPA according to its key objectives, using concrete indicators and measures. One major EPA objective, for example, is to support the conditions for increasing investments, competitiveness, and economic growth in the CARIFORUM region. The designed system will provide the basis not only to track implementation with regards to this objective but also to assess the impact of its implementation. Monitoring will also help States to determine where and how to improve on EPA implementation performance and how best to take advantage of the EPA towards the ultimate goal of sustainable development and poverty reduction.

Next Steps
A mid-programme review of the programme allowed the Directorate, the TradeComII Programme Management Unit (PMU), and the programme implementers to assess progress to date, identify challenges and the means of addressing them. At the six-month mark, the programme was on average about 65% of the way towards meeting programme deliverables.
Over the remaining few months of programme implementation, the following documents will be revised and finalized with the goal of having them adopted by the CARIFORUM States:
Model legislation and guides to enactment:
•    Immigration (Entry and Temporary Stay) of EU Service Suppliers
•    Telecommunications Regulatory [Commission/Authority]
•    Interconnection and Access to Facilities
•    International Maritime Transport Services
Documents to support creation of legal regime to facilitate movement of architects:
•    Mutual Recognition Agreement for the movement of professional qualifications of architects
•    Bill to give effect to the MRA
•    Bill for registration of architects
•    Guides to Enactment for model bills
Improved transparency for movement of goods under EPA
•    Appendix I to Annex II of the EPA (EPA tariff schedule) in HS 2017
•    Annex II to Protocol I of the EPA (EPA rules of origin) in HS 2017
Monitoring the EPA
•    Final draft CARIFORUM proposal on framework for monitoring and evaluating the EPA

Programme funded by European Union at the request of ACP Group - Implemented by AESA CONSORTIUM