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The EU's trade and development partnership with the Caribbean stretches back over more than 30 years. 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 with the EU the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement. Haiti signed the agreement in December 2009, but is not yet applying it pending ratification.

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. CARIFORUM runs a trade deficit with the EU. In other words, CARIFORUM countries export less in goods and services to the EU than they import 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-Caribbean Countries: Trade in goods

Trade in goods 2015-2017, € billions
Year EU imports EU exports Balance
2015 4.6 7.4 2.9
2016 3.6 7.0 3.4
2017 4.0 7.2 3.2

Date of retrieval: 16/04/2018

More statistics on Caribbean

EU and Caribbean

Economic Partnership Agreements set out to help African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries to improve their trade. The Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and the 15 Caribbean countries provides predictability in the market access into the EU for these countries. The agreement will lead to a general opening of the EU market beyond WTO commitments in the services sectors, including creative and entertainment industries. It ensures duty-free-quota-free market access into the EU for all products. With regard to EU exports to the region, EU exports of sensitive products will gradually be liberalised over a period of 25 years. The Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU will make it possible for CARIFORUM companies to set up a commercial presence in the EU.

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.

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 CARIFORUM countries (CARICOM plus the Dominican Republic) and seventeen territories in the Caribbean with direct links to EU countries (four French 'outermost regions' and thirteen 'overseas territories' - six British, six Dutch and one French)

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