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The EU's trade and development partnership with the Caribbean stretches back over more than 30 years. At its heart today is the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement, or EPA. This is a new partnership which CARIFORUM - a group of 15 Caribbean countries - and the EU signed in 2008. The agreement also comes with substantial EU aid for trade.

The purpose of the agreement is to make it easier for people and businesses from the two regions to invest in and trade with each other and thus to help Caribbean countries grow their economies and create jobs.

The EU-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership in Practice

Trade picture

Caribbean countries:

Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago

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 2013 CARIFORUM ran a trade deficit with the EU of some €0.8 billion. In other words, CARIFORUM countries exported €0.8 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;
  • fertilisers.

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.

EU-ACP Caribbean Countries "trade in goods" statistics

Trade in goods 2011-2013, € billions
Year EU imports EU exports Balance
2012 4.4 6.0 1.6
2013 5.2 6.1 0.8
2014 4.5 5.7 1.2

EU-ACP Caribbean Countries "trade in services" statistics

Trade in services 2010-2012, € billions
Year EU imports EU exports Balance
2010 4.3 3.3 -1.0
2011 4.8 3.0 -1.7
2012 4.8 3.3 -1.5

Foreign direct investment

Foreign direct investment 2012, € billions
Year Inward stocks Outward stocks Balance
2013 33.6 13.4 -20.2

More statistics on Caribbean

EU and Caribbean

In October 2008 Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Surinam, Trinidad, Tobago, and the Dominican Republic signed an Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU. Haiti signed the agreement in December 2009, but is not yet applying it pending ratification.

The Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and the 15 Caribbean countries  is in part a free trade agreement, or FTA. And like any FTA, it opens up trade in goods between the two regions.

But unlike other FTAs, the EU-Caribbean Economic Partnership Agreement  goes further. In fact, it's a wide-ranging partnership putting trade at the service of development.

That is because the agreement:

  • also opens up trade in services and investment;
  • makes it easier to do business in the Caribbean - governments there have made commitments in many areas directly affecting trade, like rules to ensure fair competition;
  • comes with financial support from the EU to help Caribbean:
    • governments implement the accord; and
    • businesses to use the EPA to export more and attract more outside investment.

CARIFORUM stands for the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific States. In recent years CARIFORUM countries have been integrating more closely with each other. This is part of their strategy to play a fuller role in global trade, and to offer the economies of scale and simpler rules which are vital to attract more foreign investment.

The EU-Caribbean Economic Partnership Agreement helps to consolidate this process, by making it easier to export goods and services between:

  • the fourteen countries of the Caribbean Community, or CARICOM, and the Dominican Republic, which together make up CARIFORUM;
  • these fifteen countries (CARICOM plus the Dominican Republic) and seventeen territories in the Caribbean with direct links to EU countries, and which make up two distinct groups:
    • four French 'outermost regions'; and
    • thirteen 'overseas territories' - six British, six Dutch and one French.

To strengthen the competitiveness of economic operators in Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Surinam, Trinidad, Tobago, and the Dominican Republic – as well as the integration process of these countries in the global economy - the EU provides development cooperation in the region.

The CARIFORUM - EU Economic Partnership Agreement was signed in October 2008 and entered into provisional application in December 2008. When the Agreement was signed, it was agreed that reviews of the Agreement should take place every five years. In this regard, in 2013 a study to make a preliminary assessment of the real impact of the Agreement was launched. The final report is now available.

Trading with Caribbean

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