EPA is a winner

The Dominican ambassador to the European Union, Federico Alberto Cuello says that the European Partnership Agreement recently signed by the Cariforum nations (Caricom + Dominican Republic) and the European Union resulted in negotiations that are more favorable to the country than those included in the DR-CAFTA free trade agreement with the United States and Central America. Cuello highlighted the fact that Dominican products and services can now be exported duty-free to 27 European countries as of 1 January 2008, but duty free European exports will be phased in as of 15 April 2008.

Several programs to enhance local competitiveness and prepare the country for increased trade with Europe are to be implemented by the National Office for European Development Funds (ONFED). One calls for an EUR80 million fund to improve national competitiveness, which will be managed by the National Competitiveness Council. Another calls for 120 million euros towards improving the electricity service, Cuello told Listin Diario in an interview. A further EUR130 million is going towards the Caribbean region and will be available for the Dominican Republic also through the ONFED. In addition, the European Investment Bank is making available EUR4 billion for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, including the DR.

He also highlighted the fact that there is a longer 25-year cushion of unilateral tariff protection for products considered sensitive in the Caribbean, such as chicken, beef, and pork, and dairy products. There is a three-year moratorium for reciprocity in most products. This means that the country could wait three years to change the tariffs on European products, and after that there will be a gradual reduction on many products. However, Europe will keep its doors open to duty-free and quota-free exports from the Dominican Republic, with the exception of sugar.

Furthermore, as reported in Diario Libre, Cuello explained that rules of origin apply for free zones as of 1 January 2008 and the free zones, when securing European clients, can use materials from anywhere in the world and still receive duty- free treatment for the exports.

He stressed that the agreement allows for exporting 30,000 metric tons of sugar to the European market and maintains a duty free market for Dominican tobacco, rum, cacao, bananas, avocado, mangos, vegetables and apparel.

He also mentioned that the agreement incorporates protection against unfair competition in the tourism sector.

Cuello was part of the DR negotiating team in the area of services and investments. Other key negotiators were Roberto Despradel in market access and Jose Ramon Rodriguez in agricultural products.

For the agreement, see http://dr1.com/trade/articles/426/1/…