EU Trade Relations
Trade relations between the EU and Trinidad and Tobago is carried out mainly within the framework of the EU-ACP "Cotonou Agreement" and the “EU – CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement (EU-CARIFORUM EPA)”. In addition to these, there is a new political cooperation arrangement, “Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (EU-CELAC),” which was launched in 2010. The evolution of the trade relations and development cooperation is described below:
- Signing of the Treaty of Rome which established the European Community. The Treaty contains a section on cooperation with Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).
- Creation of the "Regime of Association" with resources from the 1st European Development Fund (EDF).
The European Development Fund (EDF) is the main instrument for providing Community aid for development cooperation in the ACP States and OCT. The 1957 Treaty of Rome made provision for its creation with a view to granting technical and financial assistance, initially to African countries which at that time were still colonised and with which some Member States had historical links.
Accession of the United Kingdom to the European Community opens the way for the extension of Europe-Africa cooperation to Commonwealth countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP).
1975 – Establishment of the ACP Grouping
Signing of the Georgetown Agreement - the founding Charter of the Group. It defines the rules governing cooperation among the countries of the 3 continents whose main link was the sharing of aid from the European Community. For more details, please visit:
Entry into force of the Lomé Convention - signed by 46 ACP countries and 9 European States - which marks the beginning of cooperation between Europe and the ACP Group. The Convention grants non-reciprocal trade preferences to ACP countries and establishes Stabex: compensatory mechanism for loss of export earnings due to price fluctuations. It is coupled with the 4th EDF.
Signing of the 2nd Lomé Convention by 58 ACP countries (coupled with the 5th EDF). Appearance of Sysmin : mechanism similar to Stabex, created for mining products.
Signing of the 3rd Lomé Convention by 65 ACP countries and 10 European States, (6th EDF). Emphasis is placed on food self-sufficiency in ACP countries.
Signing of the 4th Lomé Convention which introduces a political dimension to cooperation.
Signing of the 4th Lomé Convention by 70 ACP countries and 15 European countries. The Convention emphasizes the importance of decentralised cooperation and the role of civil society.
2000 - Cotonou Agreement
Signing of the Cotonou Agreement on 23rd June 2000 by 77 ACP countries (including 15 CARIFORUM countries).
The Cotonou Agreement adapts the relation between the EU and ACP countries to the changing international environment and includes development cooperation (funded by the EDF) and economic and trade cooperation through the EPA's, seeking to make EU-ACP trade regimes WTO-compatible. For more details, please refer to: ec.europa.eu/europeaid/where/acp/overview/cotonou-agreement/index_en.htm
Within the Cotonou Agreement, the main financial instrument for development cooperation in ACP countries continues to be the European Development Fund (EDF). The EDF is now at its 10th round (2008-2013) and includes a national envelope covering bilateral cooperation with individual ACP countries (National Indicative Strategies and Programmes and a regional one covering relations with ACP regions such as the CARIFORUM region in the case of the Caribbean (Regional Indicative Strategies and Programmes).
The Trinidad and Tobago National Indicative Strategies and Programmes for the period 2008-2013 focuses mainly on budget support for economy competitiveness, environmental issues, as well as accompanying measures for ACP Sugar Producers. For more information, please visit: eeas.europa.eu/trinidad_and_tobago/index_en.htm
Start of negotiations for Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) in Brussels, September 2002.
2008 EU-CARIFORUM- Economic Partnership Agreement
The Caribbean is pioneer in signing, in October 2008, the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), which is a trade and development partnership between the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM countries) and the EU, a framework to help make trade, investment and development assistance easier for all parties, in particular promoting regional integration. For more details, please visit: ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/regions/caribbean.
The EPA creates a more equal partnership. Both sides have rights and obligations, for example tariff reductions/eliminations as is expected in any trade agreement compared to the former Lomé Conventions in which the Caribbean had non reciprocal preferential treatment.
The EPA does however recognise the different stages of development in each region. Under the Agreement, the EU offers duty free and quota free access to most goods and services from day 1 starting in 2008 whereas the Caribbean has 25 years to reduce tariffs. Additionally the Caribbean has eliminated certain goods and services which are seen as sensitive from these tariff reductions.
The EPA also supports regional integration and does so by ensuring the same treatment offered to the EU is offered among and within CARIFORUM countries. Integration is also facilitated by a EURO 140 million fund given to regional bodies to support the process of integration.
The EU is CARIFORUM's second largest trading partner, after the US. In 2011, trade between the two regions came to over €8 billion.
In 2011 CARIFORUM countries exported €2.2 billion less in goods and services to the EU than they imported from the EU. The main exports from the Caribbean to the EU are in:
- Fuel and mining products, notably petroleum gas and oils
- Bananas, sugar and rum
- Minerals, notably gold, corundum, aluminium oxide and hydroxide, and iron ore products
The main imports into the Caribbean from the EU are in:
- Boats and ships, cars, constructions vehicles and engine parts
- phone equipment
- milk and cream
- spirit drinks
2010 - Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (EU-CELAC)
In 2010, EU-CELAC was established. This is a regional mechanism for political dialogue and cooperation encompassing 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries. One of the thematic areas is a Joint Initiative on Research and Innovation. For more details, please visit: eeas.europa.eu/lac/index_en.htm
Trinidad and Tobago ratifies the CARIFORUM-EU EPA signed in 2008 and is now in the implementation stage of its obligations under the Agreement.CARIFORUM EU EPA info PDF