The CARIFORUM EU Economic Partnership Arrangement (EPA) was signed in 2008 building on long-standing economic relationships between the Caribbean region and the European Union. This EPA was developed to promote bilateral engagements between people and businesses for the two regions to invest in and trade with each other, and to spur development across the Caribbean. The agreement is also intended to broaden the market opportunities for CARIFORUM States. Notwithstanding, there is still a lot of room for improvement in order to fully capitalize on the true benefits of the EPA.

One of the core activities in this project aims at institutionalizing a dialogue forum between National Quality Infrastructure Institutions, regional QI networks and the private sector to strengthen systems and structures within the Agriculture and Fisheries sectors.

Antigua and Barbuda is a part of the CARICOM and CARICOM networks, and its obligations under the CARICOM Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) have provided a way for the country to benefit from this programme.

In attendance at this forum was the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs, Hon. Samantha Marshall who mentioned that the quality and standards of the goods produced in Antigua and Barbuda lie at the heart of the Government’s socio-economic development agenda.

“Whether for consumption or export, it is a matter of national pride that we have a quality conscious culture in Antigua and Barbuda that demands the best quality, safety, reliability, efficiency, and interchangeability from producers,” explained Hon. Samantha Marshall.  In turn, consumers will enjoy the best produce, better health, better prices and greater choices.

Hon. Samantha Marshall explained that, “the Ministry, and by extension, the Government, remains committed, even now more than ever, to investing in and supporting a well-balanced palette of competent and recognized QI services such as laboratory testing, calibrations, training, certifications, and enforcement mechanisms,”

She acknowledge that collaboration and partnerships are necessary to invest in purchasing and maintaining technical infrastructure personnel. Moreover, also needed is the enhancement in dialogues across the industry and beyond to see how existing facilities can be supported and further developed.

Hon EP Chet Greene, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Immigration and Trade also gave a presentation who focused addressed the QI for advancing trade and market access in Antigua and Barbuda.

Other presenters included; Lora Piper, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Immigration and Trade, Deryck Omar, CEO, CROSQ, Jerniecia Edwards, Quality Assurance Coordinator of GCG Antigua, Julie-Ann Laudat, Manager at JAL Training and Consultancy Services, Ato Lewis, Senior Environmental Officer at the Department of Environment, Colin O’Keiffe, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Solange Baptiste, Manager Information Services at ABBS.