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KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The CARICOM Secretariat-based Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Implementation Unit will today, Wednesday, April 18, mount a public education-styled EPA consultation for St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) in Kingstown.

The SVG Consultation Series on the CARIFORUM-EU EPA will be held under the theme Trade Related Issues (TRI), with special reference to innovation, competitiveness and intellectual property in the EPA and Vincentian interests in those issues.

Consideration of the possible gender impact of the EPA, a theme requested by SVG for inclusion in the agenda, will also form part of the proceedings.

The meeting is the final engagement in the three-pronged consultation series launched in September 2011, with a seminar on trade in services. A session focused on the thematic area of trade in goods was held last month.

Each of the one-day consultations attracted a cross-section of participants, namely technocrats/experts and representatives of the public and private sectors (including industry groups), as well as representatives of civil society, including the academic community, and social and economic partners.

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As with consultations mounted for other signatory States to the EPA, the EPA Implementation Unit collaborated closely with national authorities in the country with responsibility for EPA implementation.

The responsible national authorities liaise with, identify and invite relevant participants. This extends to identification of key national public and private sector as well as civil society focal points to serve as resource persons who support primary resource persons selected by the EPA Implementation Unit to spearhead the respective sessions.

The consultation series is geared at affording participants a better appreciation of how the regional private sector can take advantage of the possibilities flowing from and leverage the various facets of the Agreement, while drawing attention to the content of the provisions of the EPA.

The expectation is that the consultation series will also form a basis for deepening and expanding engagement between institutions with responsibility for facilitating the implementation of the EPA and those involved in the areas under consideration in this consultation.

To date, the EPA Implementation Unit has responded to requests for consultations from Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, Grenada, SVG, and Suriname. The Unit has requests from other States which are being scheduled.

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

The consultation is funded under the 9th European Development Fund, Caribbean Integration Support Programme. It is also made possible by UKaid from the Department for International Development, through the Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund.

The consultation, as with some others before it, is also made possible through the support of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH.

(CARICOM press release)

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