Make adjustment to the Economic Partnership Agreement so that the people of the Caribbean will benefit. That was the call made by CCC general secretary Gerard Granado in a letter sent to the Bureau of Heads of Government of CARICOM, Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow and CARICOM Secretary General Edwin Carrington.
Following is the full text
Cordial greetings from the General Secretariat of the Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC).
Thirty-five years ago, inspired by the vision of a strong, sustainable and progressive Caribbean region and demonstrating a capacity to remain undaunted in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges, our leaders took the wise and bold step to embark upon the establishment of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Convinced that a united approach to economic, political and functional relations intra-regionally and internationally would best serve this particular grouping of states, the founding fathers set the countries of our region on the course toward the attainment of a Community in which a favourable quality of life could be enjoyed by all.
As you and other Heads of Government prepare at this time to consider concluding a definitive comprehensive trade agreement – each member state of CARICOM and the Dominican Republic individually - with the powerful European Union as a collective, it is imperative to recall the vision and moreover some of the principles upon which our Community was founded.
These principles – cooperation, consultation, and coordinated action, together with a commitment to fostering a culture of representative democracy – remain pivotal to the Caribbean integration process.
A substantial body of credible evidence now exists that calls into question not only specific aspects of the content of the CARIFORUM – EC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), but also critical omissions therefrom.
In this regard, we have had the benefit of the considered opinion of some of the most distinguished Caribbean professionals, along with a formal assessment of the official representative of the President of the European Union.
We have no doubt that you have listened with openness to these and the many other concerned voices which have been raised throughout the region and therefore fully understand the issues at stake.
While recognising that the imperatives of today’s global trading environment require the revision of traditional trading arrangements, and while it is true that sections of the agreement may indeed yield benefits for some, it is the greater potentially detrimental impact on the wider society, especially the most vulnerable, that ought to be of particular concern.
The Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC) also wishes to join specifically with the concerns that have been expressed regarding the potentially grave implications for the establishment of our own Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) were the agreement to be concluded in its current form. It is essential that due consideration be given to this very fundamental matter.
The CCC therefore urges the Heads of Government of CARICOM under the leadership of the Bureau of the Conference to intensify efforts to ensure that initiatives are put in place to address thoroughly the many unresolved issues of the EPA.
We urge you further to make every effort to ensure that a common position is adopted with respect to its signing in order to preserve the essential founding principle of unity which has served our countries so well in foreign policy over the years.
Towards this end, we wish to endorse the recent move by the Honourable Prime Minister of Barbados, Mr David Thompson, to request the convening of an urgent special meeting of the Heads of Government of CARICOM on the EPA.
The Caribbean Conference of Churches is certain that those who lead the Caribbean Community today share the same passion for the good of the region and the well-being of its citizens which characterised the early years of the integration movement.
The CCC is also convinced that the commitment to regional integration, zeal, tenacity and fortitude remain strong.
We are therefore confident that the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) under the guidance of the Bureau will provide the astute and courageous leadership that is required at this time.
We look forward to the adjustment of this agreement for the benefit of all people of our region.
Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration.
Gerard A.J. Granado
Caribbean Conference of Churches
August 25, 2008