Private sector stakeholders are invited to engage in consultative meetings related to the **ACP-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)** to facilitate their input in framing The Bahamas’ final offers on Market Access for Goods, Services and Investments. The **Bahamas Chamber of Commerce** and the **Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB)** will host a trade briefing session on Tuesday, 10th April 2007, at The British Colonial Hilton Hotel, Bay Street, at 6:30 p.m. At this time, His Excellency A. Leonard Archer, Bahamas Ambassador to CARICOM, will provide an update on developments under the ACP-EU EPAs.

This will be the first of a series of meetings and workshops to be held for stakeholders. Workshops are being developed with the assistance of the **Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM)**, and will be held during the month of April 2007.

These consultative meetings are a continuation of recent discussions that took place in Barbados the week of 19th March 2007. Officials of the Bahamas Chamber and BFSB, and an executive of a major manufacturing company, attended the Technical Working Group (TWG) Meetings on Services and Investments In EPA Negotiations in Bridgetown Barbados from 21st – 23rd March, 2007.

The Bahamas delegation was comprised of Gershan A. Major, Chamber Director & Chairman, Globalization & Foreign Relations Committee; Darron B. Cash, Chamber Director; Hank Ferguson, Trade Consultant; Wendy Warren, BFSB CEO & Executive Director; and Yvette Sands, an executive with Bacardi & Company Limited. His Excellency A. Leonard Archer represented the Government of The Bahamas and facilitated the private sector’s participation. The delegation represented the largest grouping of private sector representatives to have participated to date in these negotiations, which will determine the future trade relationship between The Bahamas and the European Union (EU).

The delegation participated in both technical meetings for Market Access and Services and Investments for CARIFORUM’s joint offer to the EU. CARIFORUM is the unified negotiating group for the EPA, and is comprised of CARICOM countries and the Dominican Republic. The offers are being developed to continue negotiations towards establishment of the trade component of the Cotonou Agreement that is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2008. The private sector delegation agreed that participation in the technical working groups is very useful.

Given the EPA’s scope and potential impact, the group believes that it is important for all stakeholders to be informed, in order to play a meaningful role in the negotiations. To this end, the Bahamas Chamber and BFSB have committed to an aggressive schedule to inform their respective memberships of developments for the purpose of providing input to the Bahamas Government.