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    Case study: Tourism Services Liberalization in the Caribbean-European EPA negotiations


    International Trade Forum - Issue 4/2009

    In Barbados, collaboration between the public and private sectors successfully secured better tourism trade conditions than that afforded by the World Trade Organization's General Agreement on Trade in Services.

    The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the CARIFORUM Group of African Caribbean Pacific countries and the European Union (EU) represented enhanced and new market access opportunities for CARIFORUM investors and service providers in the tourism industry in the EU market. The outcomes of this process demonstrate that the private sector in developing countries, including small and vulnerable economies, can reap significant rewards from the adoption of a proactive approach to and early engagement in trade negotiations.

    The issue

    From the perspective of the Barbadian and broader Caribbean tourism industries, the global tourism industry is characterized by consolidated distribution channels controlled by a limited number of large international players, many of which are based in the EU. 
    In spite of this situation, a key objective for the CARIFORUM tourism services was to secure better market access conditions and trade facilitation mainly to enable small service suppliers in the region to export for the first time and/or increase exports to the EU.

    The solution

    At the centre of the process was the Caribbean Regional Negotiation Machinery (CRNM), which partnered with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association to drive regional national collaboration at the industry level. The Ministers of Tourism of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the CARICOM Council of Trade and Economic Development supported these partners.
    The partnership created a new entity - the Barbados Private Sector Trade Team (PSTT) - which was mandated to research, document and promote private sector interests likely to be affected as a result of international trade negotiations.
    The PSTT played an important business advocacy role in the EPA process including lobbying, engaging in both formal and informal consultations with the Ministry of Foreign Trade, and coordinating the public and private sectors at national, regional and international levels.
    In conjunction with the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association and other key private and public stakeholders, the PSTT facilitated focus groups to identify the tourism sector's offensive and defensive positions. PSTT prepared a report that highlighted areas in which Barbadian service providers expressed interest in gaining enhanced access to the European market and requested the removal of specific barriers to tourism services exports.

    The outcomes

    • Creation of meaningful, innovative, market-opening rules for the sectorEstablishment of a common understanding on issues facing the sector - particularly in the area of standards and anti-competitive practices
    • Creation of mechanisms to make it easier for EU investors to choose the Caribbean
    • Strengthening of the capacity of CARIFORUM operators to increase tourism exports and the industry's competitiveness.

    Reasons for success

    • Determination of the private sector to engage actively in the negotiation process
    • Effective use of business support organ-izations to formulate and convey positions to the Government and the regional negotiation authorities
    • Commitment manifested by both the Barbadian Government and the country's tourism stakeholders to creating and maintaining a constructive and cooperative working relationship throughout the negotiating cycle
    • Ability of negotiators to successfully pursue the interests of private operators.

    To see full case studies visit ITC's Business and Trade Policy web page:www.intracen.org/btp