Remarks Presented by Barbara Williams on-behalf of Senator the Honorable Joanne Massiah Minister of State within the Ministry

of Legal Affairs

Regional Workshop: Public Education Dimensions of Implementing the CARIFORUM-EU EPA

Heritage Hotel October 25th – 26th, 2011

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 Resource persons from the EPA Implementation Unit of the CARIFORUM Directorate within the CARICOM Secretariat,  Mr. Robert Glass, Executive Project Manager, GIZ,  Ms. June Alleyne-Griffin, CARTFund Consultant, Caribbean Development Bank,  Mr. Joel Richards, Barbados Private Sector Trade Team,  Mr. Lester Riviere, Dominica Coalition of Service Industries,  Mr. Rodney Grant, Member of the Board, Caribbean Policy Development Centre,  Representatives from the National EPA Implementation Unit,  Representatives from the Member States of CARIFORUM,  Media,  Other invited guests,  Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,  Good Morning

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It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to Antigua and Barbuda as we commemorate the 30th anniversary of political Independence which will be celebrated on November 1st, 2011 under the theme, “Antigua and Barbuda One Family Moving Towards a Secured Future”. I take this opportunity to invite you to participate in any of the activities commemorating our independence during the course of this week. Ladies and Gentlemen It has been three (3) years, this October since we have signed the EPA Agreement. We are all aware that the EPA is the first of its kind to be concluded between the European Union (EU) and one of six (6) African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) negotiating configurations. Equally, we are also aware, that the Agreement has significantly changed trade relations between the EU and the ACP from nonreciprocal to reciprocal market access for the movement of goods and services, which also encompasses relatively new trade-related issues.

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Since the principles of the EPA are based on partnership among the parties, it is important, that as a region we collectively and individually pursue the implementation of the development corporation provisions enshrined within the EPA, which will assist in addressing the implementation deficit. Therefore, we must remind our EU partners of their commitment to provide development cooperation in order to fulfill our obligations under the EPA. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen The purpose for which we are all here today is to devise a communication and public education strategy that supports the implementation of the EPA. In this regard, I share with you the following observations. Firstly, the development of a regional and by extension a national communication strategy must be guided by goals and objectives that seek to achieve measurable outputs and outcomes. Secondly, you must identify and categorize your stakeholders because the content and message to be communicated would not always be the same. Importantly, you must become aware of the
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needs, interests and challenges of your stakeholders, which is essential in designing a communication strategy. Thirdly, a monitoring framework must be included in the strategy as a means of reviewing and making adjustments to ensure its effectiveness. And finally, you must be aware of the risks in implementing such a communication strategy, which could encounter some amount of stakeholder resistance. Ladies and Gentlemen Communication is more than just the transmission of information. It is about communicating consistent messages about the EPA. The importance of implementing a sound, systematized public education initiatives are key in securing stakeholder buy-in, interest and ultimately paves the way for their continuous and active participation in the processes. It was a few months ago in March when the Minister addressed the opening of a similar workshop for media workers on this very subject. She reminded media practitioners that they are “like a
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mirror of the society reflecting everything therein and it is their responsibility to convey the truth and relevant information to the common man”. In the same vain I wish to encourage you that the development of the communication strategy should be seen as a mirror reflecting the provisions of the EPA where all forms of media whether print, audio, or electronic should be utilized to effectively and continuously execute the strategy. The agreement is too important to the socio-economic development of the region and political relations with the EU for us to miss the mark in consistently communicating its provisions to the regional and national stakeholders. (Repeat) Ladies and Gentlemen I must however emphasize that the synergies in the communication strategy to be implemented must be identified and linked to the status of implementing the EPA at the national and regional levels. However, the message communicated at the national level must be tailored to the environment. The national EPA Implementation Unit has already embarked upon a number of initiatives including the drafting of a Communication Strategy that enunciates the very elements I outlined including the use of all forms of media to communicate with our stakeholders.
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Finally, I urge you to be creative when focusing on the development of the Communication Strategy since the full understanding of the public and private sectors is vital in order for CARIFORUM to reap the benefits outlined in the accord. Thus it is with great pleasure that I declare this workshop officially open, I wish you much success in your deliberations over the next two days.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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