St. Kitts and Nevis, together with the majority of the other CARIFORUM States, signed the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the CARIFORUM States and the European Union (EU) on the 15th day of October 2008, in Barbados. The signing of the EPA marked the end of the non-reciprocal preferential market access of regional commodities into Europe. The EPA places significant responsibilities on the CARIFORUM States to undertake a number of adjustments, if their economies are to be competitive, to grow, and to address the critical issues of poverty reduction and more equitable distribution of income.
The EPA is a trade and development agreement that has a number of specific objectives. These objectives include (i) the promotion of regional integration, economic cooperation and good governance; (ii) the integration of CARIFORUM States into the world economy; (iii) improving the capacity of the CARIFORUM States in trade policy and trade related issues; (iv) supporting the conditions for increasing investment and private sector initiative; (v) supporting the conditions for enhancing supply capacity, competitiveness and economic growth; and (vi) strengthening existing relations between the parties. Arguably, the EPA aims ultimately at improving the prospects for the successful integration of CARIFORUM States into a globalised economic environment and thereby increasing the well-being of their populations and contributing to eventual poverty eradication.
Subsequent to the signing of the EPA, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis (GSKN) established the National EPA Implementation Unit within the Office of the Ministry of International Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs (MITICCA) with the mandate of coordinating the implementation of the EPA. St. Kitts and Nevis has not ratified the EPA, however, work is ongoing in this area as the Ministry of International Trade, Industry Commerce and Consumer Affairs have met with several of the stakeholders to discuss the benefits and requirements leading up to implementation of the Agreement. To date, the Ministry has enlisted the services of a Legal Draftsman to assist with drafting the necessary legislation which is expected to be presented to the Cabinet and taken to the House of Parliament for ratification during the third quarter of 2017.
The Ministry continues its robust public awareness campaign in an effort to sensitize the general public and the major stakeholders on the implementation of the EPA and its ramifications for St. Kitts and Nevis.