K. Tucker - Possibilities of EPA for Caribbean Development


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K. Tucker - Possibilities of EPA for Caribbean Development

  1. 1. THE POSSIBILITIES OF THE EPA FOR CARIBBEAN DEVELOPMENT A View from the Experts Kerrie-Ann M. TuckerIntroductionVarious points of view surrounding the weaknesses and viability of small Caribbean states inthe global political economy have had a significant impact on the way in which regionaldevelopment has been conceptualised. Academics and policy-makers have, over time,fashioned a development framework hinged on a range of cooperation and integration andstrategies between and among the states located within the basin in overcoming concerns ofsmall size and openness, socio-economic fragility, patterns of decline and poverty and limitedaccess to technological and other resources. Studies have been commissioned by severalgovernments and agencies including the 1997 Commonwealth Secretariat’s A Future forSmall States: Overcoming Vulnerability which have indicated that the survival of small islandeconomies inherently lay in cooperative mechanisms which encourage partnerships with othertrade partners.The CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed 15th October 2008marks the latest chapter in the trade and development cooperation relationship between theCaribbean and Europe. The EPA is the follow-up to successive Lome Conventions whichwere first signed in 1975, and the Cotonou Agreement signed in 2000. Lome I through IV, andCotonou were designed to facilitate preferential non-reciprocal European market access byformer colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). The agreements alsocombined essential elements of development assistance- including technical and financialsupport- to aid ACP states in mitigating and overcoming obstacles to economic and socialdevelopment. There have been ongoing discussions about and commentaries on thenegotiation and implementation of the EPA within CARIFORUM– Caribbean Community(CARICOM) member-states and the Dominican Republic. Page 1 of 34
  2. 2. The rise of newly industrialised countries (NICs) such as the Asian Tigers which includesSingapore, and Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) within the sphere of free trade andcapitalism is often cited as evidence in supporting the view trade liberalisation acts as astimulant to growth and development. There, however, has been very little evidence tosupport this conception of free trade as a guaranteed solution to the development concerns ofLDCs which neither enjoy the advantages of vast territory, large populations and market, andexperienced extended periods of colonisation- as part of the Imperial and post-Imperial Age-during which limited natural resources were utilised in an unsustainable manner and thewealth derived repatriated to the homelands of the colonisers. It is proposed further, therefore,that the rise of the ‘BRIC’ is an off-shoot- an unintended effect- of market capitalism and thatthe increase in exports and productive capacity from foreign direct investment, in and of itself,did not have a positive impact on development in these countries. Instead, liberal trade whenpartnered with requisite social tools such as a high level of education and training, adequateinfrastructure and new technology, and placed within a context defined by past and presentrealities and biases may yield positive results.This research investigates the perspectives of several experts selected for study regarding thepotential impact of the recently concluded negotiations and the ensuing provisions of the onCaribbean development. This study will examine texts- articles, presentations and eliteinterview transcripts- which present the perceptions of persons who were involved in thenegotiation process and others who have embarked upon the critical assessment of theagreement through scholarship of how the implementation of the EPA will affect the socio-economic environment and future of the region as well as how regional stakeholders may takeadvantage of the agreement’s provisions. We will examine the praxis of the Caribbean’sdevelopmental challenge and the underpinnings of international development standards. Page 2 of 34
  3. 3. Traditional economic theory proposed by Adam Smith (1776) emphasises free trade and theself-regulated market as a near panacea for underdevelopment and negative economicgrowth. Particularly as it relates to developing economies, trade and access to foreign marketshas been advanced as the most pragmatic means to improve countries’ balance of paymentsas well as earn much needed income by attracting foreign investment and expanding localmarkets. It also propounded that small domestic markets limit productive sectors ability to takeadvantage of economies of scale- the comparative lowering of unit costs experienced byproducers with increased output. The argument, which to some extent had been accepted inthe global South, holds that an increase in trade earnings was indicative of economic growthwhich in-turn could be observed in a trickle-down effect in the areas of social services,infrastructure and the general well-being of citizens.The emphasis placed on production and consumption within the global marketplace has madeit more important for states to embark upon what former US Secretary of State MadeleineAlbright termed a ‘multilateralism’ in order to go beyond “factors and constraints ofdevelopment through a movement to expand and deepen relations with other states that haveshared priorities and objectives”(Serbin and Bryan 1996:92). Karl Falkenburg, the DeputyDirector General for Trade of the European Union has noted that the EPA would “consolidatetrade in goods between the European Union and CARIFORUM with an expanded relationshipinto areas of services and investment”1. The EPA is envisioned to manage the liberalisation oftrade in goods and services between the Caribbean and one of its largest economic partnersthrough the removal, or reduction of tariffs and non-tariff barriers and the establishment ofreciprocal duty-free quota-free (DFQF) access.However, claims put forward by free-market economists and development strategists of thepositive impact on development in less advanced countries have not been substantiated. This1 Karl Falkenburg in “Caribbean Countries to evaluate EPA”, January 8, 2008, http://dr1.com/trade/articles/439/1/Caribbean-countries-to-evaluate-EPA/Page1.html. (accessed February 15, 2008) Page 3 of 34
  4. 4. may be noted on 3 main grounds. Firstly, less developed countries (LDCs) have limitedaccess to the technological and financial resources and, in some cases, the expertiserequisite for maximising output and in producing finished goods and services at a competitiveprice. As such, LDCs often function as the first stage in the production process by providingproducers in the industrialised North with much-needed raw materials which fetch acomparably lower price than finished or manufactured goods.Secondly, the inability of small-island developing states (SIDS) to sustain high levels ofproduction due to the restrictions of small size and low economies of scale relative to theirlarger competitors. Neither do markets in SIDS of the Lesser Antilles with small populations inthe tens of thousands such as St. Kitts and Antigua encourage or absorb high volume ofoutput, nor does the geography facilitate large-scale industries. Lastly, the high volume andrange of manufactured goods produced and exported under free trade arrangements bydeveloped states at low cost often marginalise domestic sectors in particular small farmingand cottage industries. For example, several quantitative studies conducted on the impact ofthe asymmetrical Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) of the 1980s between the US and countriesof the region aimed at facilitating the growth of the “Greater Caribbean”, have revealed thatUS$3.5 billion in CBI goods entered the US for the period January to September 2001 underthe 2000 expansion of the CBI- the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act. That year, USexports to CBI countries totalled US$20.7 billion in that year. As such, it has becomeincreasingly difficult to engender development as a direct product of market access- reciprocalor preferential.To this end, and being cognizant of the previous discussion, answers to the followingquestions were sought: 1. What are the discourses surrounding the impact of the EPA on Caribbean Development? Page 4 of 34
  5. 5. 2. What, if any, are the implications of these discourses in preparing for the impact of full implementation of the EPA on various regional stakeholders including governments, businesses, skilled persons, and consumers?BackgroundThe West Indian Commission recommended in its 1993 Time for Action report that the statesof the English-speaking Caribbean which form CARICOM should seek to “widen and deepen”integration efforts towards a “transformation of perceptions of a Commonwealth Caribbean tothose of a Caribbean Commonwealth”2.Since the collapse of the West Indies Federation in the 1960s and several piecemeal attemptsat economic integration through the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) andCARICOM, the English-speaking Caribbean has continuously pursued regional co-operationagreements including the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME). However, thesehave been aimed at creating a larger more profitable market as a sub-region by takingadvantage of better economies of scale to reduce the high cost of production, increaseinternational competitiveness and comparative advantage as well as to reduce the impact ofexternal shocks from fluctuations in overseas markets. It is proposed that the CSME whichpromises the formation of a single and unified economic space characterised by the freemovement of Caribbean people, goods, services and capital which facilitate diverse andimproved opportunities will allow small producers to “consider more seriously Europe as aniche market for their specialty products and build brand recognition and competitivenessbeyond the free trade area”.32 West Indian Commission, Time for Action Report, 1993 in Serbin and Bryan, Distant Cousins, 19963 Berridge. “The Economic Partnership Agreements: Opportunity or Threat?”, The Democrat Newspaper, February 15, 2008,http://www.pamdemocrat.org/Newspaper/Details.cfm?Nz=$7GIJ2%20%20%20&Iz=$(BXK%20P (accessed February 15, 2008) Page 5 of 34
  6. 6. Scholarship on Caribbean integration movements and regionalism as a mechanism topromote sustainable development and confront globalisation (Bryan 1995; Bryan and Bryan1999; Serbin and Bryan 1996; Serbin 1998; Pantin 1994), however, indicates that economiccooperation between and among the small-island states of CARICOM would proveinadequate- though creating a combined market somewhere in the region of 6 million people.Additionally, these islands have remained largely dependent on a small export basecomprised largely of few agricultural products, tourism and raw materials, and whoseindustries have been insufficiently infused with new technologies in order to boost production.As such, it has been argued that by Serbin and Bryan that the English-speaking Caribbeanmust place a higher value on hemispheric trade partnerships “as part of a process of erectinga framework to move then from the protected inward-looking arrangements of the past that willimprove their chances in dynamic global markets in the Western Hemisphere, WesternEurope, Asia or elsewhere” [Serbin and Bryan 1996:123]Junior Lodge, Technical Coordinator of the EPA Negotiations in the Caribbean RegionalNegotiating Machinery (CRNM) which took the lead position on behalf of CARIFORUM,proposes that the “EPA should strengthen CARIFORUM regional integration in terms offacilitating deeper ties with The Bahamas and Haiti – two states whose relationships with theCSME are ill-defined”4. He further asserted that it is the entrenched right of everyCARIFORUM member-state to grant each other preferences that do not have to be awardedto the EU. This strengthening of ties between CARICOM and its Latin American neighbourshas also been endorsed under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas as part of enhancingsocio-cultural linkages through shared space and experience as well increasing the scope andopportunities available to regional people and business upon consolidation of the CSME.4 Lodge “CARIFORUM EPA Negotiations: An Initial Reflection”, .http://www.crnm.org/documents/ACP_EU_EPA/epa_agreement/TNI_240108_FINAL.pdf (Accessed February 28, 2008) Page 6 of 34
  7. 7. Multilateralism as conceptualised by Albright, upon which the notion of an EPA is founded,has its epistemological roots in the mercantilist project which gave rise to the capitalistindustrial economies of Western Europe and North America. The bias of free trade is firmlygrounded in the Western- ‘Anglocentric’- experience from which industrialised states derivedsubstantial wealth from the global activities of their multi-national corporations throughoutAfrica, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean in mining, agriculture and other primaryproductive areas. From this perception, one discerns the clear link between the rhetoric ofliberal trade regimes and the potential for capital expansion.However, these gains may not be replicated and principles applied to developing nations ofthe South as they will not be afforded a similar attempt at exploitation vis-à-vis neo-liberalthought of interdependence and ‘partnering for development’ in the contemporary setting.Furthermore, Eurocentric musings and notions of development often belie the fact that thedevelopment of the British, French, Belgian and US economies occurred at the expense oftheir former colonies- today’s Third World. Dr. Jessica Byron and Dr. Patsy Lewis of theUniversity of the West Indies have cautioned LDCs of CARIFORUM to critically assess theimplementation of the EPA and other similar agreements. They have suggested specificbenchmarks to ensure that the agreement does not have an opposite intended effect and that“the liberalisation of trade should not be undertaken in such a way as to undermine theregional integration process and negatively impact the production of the region’s economies(Byron and Lewis 2007).This argument leads us to the primary concept being explored- that of development. A post-colonial postmodernist outlook suggests that in order to assess the circumstance, concerns,expectations, aspirations and misgivings embroiled in the EPA debate one must conceivedevelopment as a broad concept. It is essential to deconstruct development in an attempt toisolate the ideals and measures defined by and relevant to a specific space from a more Page 7 of 34
  8. 8. general or global value system. Having reconsidered the literature on Caribbean integration asa response to correcting global imbalances, relieving the burden of fragility and alleviating thepersistent underdevelopment which has conditioned the region and its roles in the politico-economic landscape, some reflections on the value-laden concept of development mustinform the study. For the purpose of this analysis, therefore, we will examine the variantmeanings of development- without and within the milieu of Caribbean economy and society.What is Development?Development is essentially a construct which is defined by a process of observation, analysisand reporting of social interaction. It also derives and takes on value and meaning from theparticular space within which it is viewed and assessed, and from the observer. The term isconceptualised according to a specific contextual truth and is grounded in specific or sharedexperiences of the observers and the subjects within that setting. As such, it has come toencompass a variety of constituent elements and interpretations which have had far-reachingimplications on decision-making and socio-economic policy. ‘Development’ is a fusion of avariety of truths- knowledge, experience, suppositions, abilities, authority, values and biases-and dominant opinions of governments, agencies and intellectuals surrounding what areacceptable standards, targets.Development is often identified through widespread ‘betterment’ and forward movement. In hisNotes on the Meaning and Significance of Development Girvan outlines the different notionsassociated with and embodied in what we refer to as ‘development.’ He further posits that“probably the most widely used concept of development” is that of sustained economicgrowth. He contends that throughout the 1980s development was viewed as being“synonymous with the population” as an increase in Gross National Product (GNP) coupledwith a lower rate of population growth would necessarily result in a nominal increase inincome per capita and improved standards of living (Girvan 1999:13 He emphasised that the Page 8 of 34
  9. 9. dominant and traditional social science theory narrowly defined development as the presenceof economic growth in terms of wealth and projected increases in a country’s earning andpurchasing power. As such, development discourse was preoccupied with levels of productionacross different sectors, income generating capacity and investment experience by a countryor geographical area.This perspective is indicative of several fundamental assumptions of neo-classical economictheory and analysis rooted in a distinctly patriarchal structure. The emphasis on the pre-eminence of the state and its symbiotic relationship to economic wealth is one which has beenexamined by feminist scholars as emerging from ontology of masculinity. Girvan, however,proposes that distinctions may be made between development, within a strictly economicperspective, as growth, the remodelling of the systemic relations between economic agentsand actors or as a dynamic multi-dimensional “process” in which all areas of human life andactivity – political, economic and social- undergo improvements and positive change (Girvan1999:13). Contemporary trends in world politics and research into the area have ‘humanised’the global agenda and debates on issues of human security including stemming inequalitieshave become more relevant and has shifted some focus from concerns of war and security.Post-modernist debates on development policy which emerged in the 1960s, which are beingparticularly examined through feminist critiques (Sen 1999; Nussbaum 2000) sought toexpand development thought beyond economics towards a study of human development.The 1996 United Nations Human Development Report proposed that “there is no link betweeneconomic growth and human development, but when these links are forged with policy anddetermination, they can be mutually reinforcing and economic growth will effectively andrapidly improve human development.”5 As such, increases in GNP do not speak to socio-economic disparities and qualitative analyses which of the distribution of wealth, consumer5 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Human Development Report 1996, Retrieved 29 March 2008,http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr_1996_en.pdf Page 9 of 34
  10. 10. spending and access to basic resources. The majority of citizens are not typically beneficiariesof wealth created and quite often do not enjoy improved standards of living.The redefinition and reconstruction of ‘development’ have taken further consideration of theparticular needs and state of the most vulnerable and marginalised such as women and thepoor- which includes poor states- in trade policy formulation, implementation and analysis.According to the 1998 HDR, “the concept of human development provides an alternative tothe view of development equated exclusively with economic growth.” Human development isdefined as “a process of enlarging peoples choices” and is “achieved by expanding humancapabilities and functionings.”6 The development paradigm has not excluded quantifiablemeasures such as GDP per capita from consideration but has been reconfigured to focus onthe individual and making the private concerns of these individuals integral to public policy.The Research ProcessThis study of the potential impact of the EPA on Caribbean development, therefore, is aimedat unearthing and opening up the intellectual closet on economic exploitation, small statesurvival strategies and the meanings derived from trade agreements by political and civilsociety actors. It aims at distinguishing the non-quantifiable values- welfare, capacity,innovation etc.- which combine to give dimension to development approaches.The research was conducted using a Discourse Analysis methodology. Discourse is“language-in-action” (Bloomaert 2005:2) as conversations, texts, presentations and otherlinguistic forms encode connotations and importance which may be observed and assessedas data.The analysis of discourse builds on a constructionist epistemology which privileges theparticipants’ definition of specific concepts and themes, and inter-subjective understanding6 UNDP. Human Development Report 1998, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998) Page 10 of 34
  11. 11. involved in the various processes of human interaction and activity. As such, discourses arenot stagnant and not merely reflective of an assigned meaning. The discourses on Caribbeandevelopment and the potential effects of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA during and since thenegotiation process are located, assessed and understood within the current political,economic and social reality. The study cannot proffer an explanation of what is, as theperspective under analysis of projections and expectations are informed by theimplementation of free trade arrangements in other less developed regions and countries suchas CAFTA in Central America and NAFTA in Mexico. The perceptions were also heavilynested within the state of the global economy and its vulnerability to high oil and food prices,the decline of the US dollar against the Euro and the threat of a US recession, concerns withfood security and the paradigm shift in North/ South trade relations from preferences toreciprocal DFQF market access.The method focused on interpretation of the ways in which importance was attributed tothemes such as development- economic as well as social, competitiveness within the globalmarket, economic growth and institutional strengthening. The discourse analysis was carriedout using Grounded Theory techniques (Strauss and Corbin 1990).The discussion of research findings revealed a critical analysis of the reality which framed thenegotiation of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA and the perspectives of the selected experts. AlfredSchutz’s emphasis on recognizing and appreciating how reality is formed and representedfacilitated the “reconstruction” of the origins of the “objective meanings of action in the socialworld” (Denzin and Lincoln, 2003:297).Discourse analysis also proved most relevant as it relies upon an ‘interpretivist’ approach toideas. The analysis establishes the ‘intertextual’ relationship between and among discourses(Titscher and Meyer et. al. 2000:146). As such, uncovering linkages between thedevelopment, free trade, regionalism, viability and vulnerability, and institutional strengthening Page 11 of 34
  12. 12. discourses within the Caribbean and internationally will reveal the meaning of the perspectiveson the potential impact of the EPA as a reflection of the specificity of that time and socialsetting. Simply put, that the texts analysed were influenced by and influenced thinking on theimplications of the EPA for the region; the discourse is also influenced by the socio-economicconditions being experienced.The study hinged on expert opinion- the perspectives of those who were involved in thenegotiating process or who have done extensive work in the area of Caribbean progress or inrelation to the EPA. A clear challenge existed in collecting primary data using interviews andother forms of field research due to this stipulation. All experts were not accessible for face-to-face observation due to time and financial constraints in the data collection process. Firstly, apopulation of 10 regional experts was identified within the relatively small population which fitthe necessary profile of having been involved in the process or having extensive knowledge ofthe focus. A sample of 3 experts with whom face-to-face interviews could be conducted wereselected and approached to participate in the study. As such, a combined approach wasutilized as the sample involved elements of both judgment or purposive sampling andconvenience sampling. Of the three, two interviews were conducted.The sample was further expanded to include presentations prepared by two other expertsusing a maximum variation sampling strategy (Maykut and Morehouse 1994:56). Thephenomenon is explored using the views which are expected to be most divergent. “Maximum variation sampling provides the qualitative researcher with a method by which the variability characteristic of random selection can be addressed, while recognizing that the goal of a qualitative study is not generalisability. It is not our goal to build a random sample…it is our working knowledge of the contexts of the individuals and settings that Page 12 of 34
  13. 13. lead us to select them for initial inclusion in our study (Maykut and Morehouse 1994:57)”The interviewees selected were both female and have participated in the discourse on EPAsand their application to asymmetrical arrangements between developed and developingcountries. Both elite interviews were transcribed into text for analysis. The documentsanalysed were retrieved from online sources and selected on the basis of their authors’location within the EPA discourse: A. Will the EPA Enhance Our Development? April 14, 2004 authored by Rosalea Hamilton, Trade Policy Consultant and CEO, Institute of Law and Economics B. CARIFORUM EPA Negotiations: Initial Reflections on the Outcome, February 13, 2008 presented by Errol Humphrey, Vice-Dean of the CARIFORUM College of EPA NegotiatorsThe 4 texts have come out of debates on whether or not the Caribbean stands to see anytangible benefit from the EPA negotiated by the CRNM, or negotiators were pressured intoaccepting an agreement which will allow the EU to exploit the region as an export destinationand exacerbate conditions of socio-economic decline on the developed North. There has alsobeen discourse of discontent and vulnerability with the limited consultations at the local levelsand investigation into the state of Caribbean societies and all possible outcomes of enteringinto such an unbalanced agreement with a global power.Regional heads of government have become embroiled in an underdevelopment anddependence discourse in the sense that the Guyana Prime Minister has stated that the EPAmay be viewed as unfair mechanism which will further jeopardise regional development asopposed to the arguments of the Jamaican Prime Minister which suggest that regional Page 13 of 34
  14. 14. development has consistently been thwarted by an ideology of mendicancy on the part ofCaribbean in its relationship with the industrialised countries.General concepts were identified and noted throughout the texts. This established thecredibility of the categories to be coded and categories for organising the informationdiscovered. The texts revealed the common concepts of asymmetry, paradigm shifts in tradepolicy, regional integration, economic diversification, socio-economic decline and institutionalstrengthening.The discourses emphasised inefficiency in regional production, a lack of competitiveness,sustainable development and the use of metaphors of movement from one level to another(‘dragging our feet’, ‘jump’, ‘build up’, ‘a good vehicle to advance’, ‘take yourself out of thehole’, ‘come up’, ‘got off the ground’, ‘repositioning’). There was also emphasis placed onuncertainty and hesitance when considering any potential positive impact of the EPA onCaribbean development (‘it depends’, ‘may’, ‘it could’, ‘if’, ‘I don’t know if’), preparation andtraining, coping strategies, opportunity and the importance of strong leadership in guiding theexecution of the terms of the EPA. The discourses also reflected attitudes ranging frompessimism to cautious optimism.Discourses further referenced the successive Lome Conventions, Cotonou and otherasymmetrical partnerships involving Latin American and Caribbean as well as the EPAnegotiating process states in designating trade agreements as unfair rivalry rather than as a‘partnership’: the powerful Europe Union, which will unload cheaper goods an displace localproducts and businesses is represented as exploitative and self-serving. The Caribbean asfragile, susceptible and desperate are presented as having had no choice but to capitulateand sign on to the EPA in light of having done so in the past and as opposed to thealternative- facing economic isolation. Page 14 of 34
  15. 15. The data was finally interpreted at various linguistic levels- in particular orthography,phonology and semantics- to interpret the space within which the different discourses arelocated and the symbolic meanings which the texts are aimed at communicating. There is anobservable difference, therefore, between the discourses noted in the documents. Thedocument authored by Hamilton at the second phase of the EPA negotiation process revealedwhat may best be considered a confrontation with negotiators and policy-makers to eke outprovisions that make the agreement meaningful and also to put in place a framework in whichthe provisions may prove advantageous. The punctuation of phrases (‘Easier said than done!’,‘It is imperative’) using exclamation marks for emphasis, for example, located the text withinthe discourse on concern and anxiety. In contrast, distinctions may be made withinHumphrey’s text where pseudo-objective facts which place the EPA in a positive andnecessary light are highlighted and italicised (‘advance the region’s development’, ‘injectmuch-needed resources’, ‘development-oriented EPA’, ‘CARIFORUM commitments are linkedto the delivery of EC support’).FindingsThe research pointed to possible negative as well as positive effects of the CARIFORUM-EUEPA on Caribbean development. The construction of a theory of the impact of free tradeagreements on small, open economies, however, is limited by two realisations: 1. The inquiry was conducted on the basis of predictions, projections and informed assumptions. The EPA has only recently been signed by the relevant heads of government and there has been minimal progress in its implementation. The focus was primarily on the ‘possibilities’ involved n pursuing this path to socio-economic development. Page 15 of 34
  16. 16. 2. The discourse on the EPA has evolved within an environment of severe economic hardship for the region and the world. As such, the messages have been biased by concerns that any proposition which has even the slightest potentially adverse implication may meet with resistance out of simple human fear.With these considerations in mind, we will commence discuss the findings under the broadheadings of new opportunities, engendering efficiency and competitiveness, assistance,sustainable development, socio-economic instability and undermining Caribbean institutions.New OpportunitiesThe DFQF reciprocal agreement presents several opportunities. The asymmetricalliberalisation of trade in goods and services adopted under the EPA has accommodated lessextensive liberalisation within Caribbean states over longer periods than that of the EU. This ismost evident in the terms governing market access to CARIFORUM goods whereby the EUliberalised all eligible imports as at January 1, 2008. The region, on the other hand, wasgranted up to 25 years to liberalise much of its European tariff structure and specialexclusions were made on the importation of “sensitive” areas such as utilities, agricultural andprocessed agricultural products and furniture. This period should be viewed as a chance forCaribbean states to critically assess fiscal arrangements and make the necessarypreparations including the implementation of adequate tax reforms in order to reduce thepotential negative structural and economic fallout which accompanies a drastic change inpolicy. Analysis revealed intonations of immediacy and un-avoidance (‘need’, ‘have to’,‘imperative’) where the response to imminent change in itself holds potential.The statement by Hamilton which suggests that the regional systems are not prepared-through their institutionalised lethargy or failure- and will require a great deal of transformationis that she sees the EPA as “another opportunity to get our house in order”. This intimates that Page 16 of 34
  17. 17. the current policies, the capacity and efficiency in monitoring and collection, and trainingprogrammes etc. are and have been lacking. The region will now be forced by the agreementto fulfil a responsibility to itself which should have been previously addressed.During the interview with Miss Harris she stated that “we have to have better control in respectof customs and immigration” and that she was “worried about what it will mean in terms ofgoods”. She further stated: “It means far more monitoring. We been used to so much compromise and hustling that that is going to leave the door open for all manner of things.”In both interviews an emphasis was placed on the need for restructuring the controlmechanisms in place, and retooling and reinvesting in equipment and training in the customsand revenue agencies as well as the bodies, such as Jamaica’s Bureau of Standards, whichare mandated to stipulate and monitor the quality and safety of goods imported and exported.Professor Brown in responding to the question on what steps should be taken to overcomeany weaknesses she perceived also indicated that the region’s governments had theopportunity ahead of full implementation to asses the “institutional investments”.The EPA Protocol on Cultural Cooperation goes well beyond the terms of Cotonou which waslimited to cooperation in cultural development to implementing a system of free trade incultural and entertainment services. The EPA has successfully liberalized services whichinclude the tourism sector, contract service providers and the movement of independentprofessionals. There are further commitments to what Humphrey terms as “mutual recognitionof qualifications”.These provisions are of contrasting importance in regional development. Firstly, it allows forthe free movement of artists and practitioners in music, dance, theatre, visual arts and accessand market access areas such as audiovisual production which has the potential to expand Page 17 of 34
  18. 18. the entertainment industry exponentially. This will mean an increase in employment in thesector, exposure to foreign audiences and new technologies, highlighting the region’s dynamicculture and enhancing its influence in global culture and an expected increase in exportearnings from entertainment as a combination of all these factors. However, as pointed out byBrown, many of the possible positive implications for Caribbean development under the EPAare premised on “best-endeavour clauses” with which she sees as being “vague” and “diluted”when compared to “clear and precise” rules on an equally involved process such as“dismantling” of barriers to trade. She also stated “I wouldn’t have minded changing those abit.”The terms and conditions of these ‘commitments’ having not been as clearly outlined andindisputably stated as the timelines and responsibilities of states in the removal of tariffs maysuggest that Caribbean cultural industries may in fact be met with difficulties in exploiting thisperceived opening. Qualifications and the recognition of these are highly subjective concepts.That which adequately qualifies, or fails to, an artist in Trinidad is most likely to differ from thatwhich qualifies him in France. Culturally-speaking, and returning to the UNDP definition ofdevelopment, it is the value which the society or community places on the arts and art-formwhich validates his contribution and any project in creating guidelines to assess capability.Hence, Caribbean cultural entrepreneurs could face non-tariff barriers within the Europeanservices market including the denial of entry. How does one certify a Destra? A Rupee? ABeenie Man? It does not prove to be an easy question to answer. According to Harris theCaribbean “will have to look at how to define what our space is in the global agenda…at ouruniversity courses, see how they compare with sister countries elsewhere and to see fromthose comparisons how you fit in to the changed marketplace in respect of what youproduce…”These persons could become constrained within repressive, hegemonicperspectives to which regional talent may become forced to subscribe which undermine‘contextuality’ of human development. Page 18 of 34
  19. 19. One must also acknowledge the negative spin-offs of the free movement of professionals andtalents who gain access- and acceptance- in Europe. The Caribbean is currently facing a‘brain-drain’ of crisis proportions. The much-discussed shortage of medical professionals,teachers etc. may be further aggravated and with the added dimension of ‘talent-drain’ wouldhave what may be seen as an unintended effect in hindering regional development. The bestand brightest could essentially be unavailable to build and promote the countries of the regionover the next 25 years.Engendering Efficiency and CompetitivenessWithin this transition period, new opportunities also present themselves through thediversification within traditional areas of production. As previously indicated, marketeconomics places a higher value of finished, manufactured goods and knowledge-basedsectors such as Information Technology than on the raw materials used during the process.Miss Harris indicated that the Caribbean will benefit from the EPA as it would encourage theexploration of new exports as well as the potential to utilise development funds promisedunder the agreement in skills and technical training.Interviewer: Okay. How do you believe the Caribbean, and in particular Jamaica, will benefit from the EPA?Interviewee: From the development aspects of the EPAs. I believe that the value- added that we need to put on our crops now meaning our primary- like with sugar and what we are doing with ethanol- and the whole changing energy atmosphere that we are in now and also in respect of how our people can develop personally in terms of skills and opportunities that can present themselves. Page 19 of 34
  20. 20. In the analysis of Humphrey’s text this diversification discourse also indicated that there were“classic disadvantages of relying on the exports of one or two primary agricultural products”. Itis therefore understood that whether or not the EPA was precipitated by the WTO ruling onthe incompatibility of market preference to international trade which is referenced by theinterdiscursive elements of paradigm-shifts and the requirement to meet changing globalrealities, Caribbean producers would have to face the impracticality and weakness of pursuingsuch a narrow path which has contributed to the region’s “state of survival poverty” (Beckford1986; Manley 1986).Interviewer: What are the potential negative effects on Caribbean development that you have perceived?Interviewee: I found people have always thought there is an export market and there is a domestic market. And people have always thought that if you are small you stick to the domestic market because that is where you can survive. There is no domestic market or international market there is one world market. And you can be displaced wherever you are.The focus of the post-colonial era has remained entrenched in the ideology of smallness andas such it has sustained socio-political and economic self-constraints. The EPA shouldtherefore revolutionise modes of production but also the attitudes and philosophy which haveimposed limits and replace it with one geared towards viability, developing the capacity tocompete at any level and finally thriving rather than surviving.Evidence supports the view that this economic overhaul will present a challenge but not aninsurmountable one (Commonwealth Secretariat 1997). Page 20 of 34
  21. 21. Development AssistanceThe Caribbean is among the most heavily indebted regions in the world. Limited financialresources, and the region’s long relationship with lending agencies such as the World Bankwhich has left us nursing substantial debt-servicing commitments, have restricted regionalgovernments in making adequate investments in social and institutional development. Assuch, the EPA debates have highlighted development cooperation and assistance as the mostbeneficial aspect of the negotiations. Europe, under the European Development Fund (EDF)and Aid-for-Trade programme, is expected to provide financial assistance to regionalgovernments towards tax reform, marketing the region, enhancing productive capacity amongother areas.Humphrey’s treatment of issues of social development support, reflect the broader handling ofthe areas of development under the EPA that will be of concern to the most vulnerableelements of society and contribute to everyday life. His only indication to the funding ofprojects such as community empowerment programmes which may potentially stem urbandecay and have a positive impact in reducing the rates of violent crimes which haveskyrocketed in Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and increased in countries such as St. Vincent,was “CARIFORUM was insistent that while supporting the implementation of this Agreementshall be one of the priorities…these should not be the only sources of EPA-related support.”The emphasis placed on the importance of the interconnectedness of the developmentdiscourse and the free trade discourse within the EPA negotiations themselves may be seenas unsubstantiated as the negotiators were neither clear on the conditions nor made anymeaningful, detailed statement on a programme of funding social development and therebymitigating the negative effects on societies, communities and individuals. Interviewer: What are the strengths, if any, of the EPA which was initialled in December 2007? Page 21 of 34
  22. 22. Interviewee: It does come along with the ongoing development assistance in the Cotonou Agreement- the development chapter of Cotonou. I don’t know how much additional assistance there will be despite all that is said. There will be assistance for those things which the European Union has particular interest in such as tax reform, customs and customs reform. Because those are the things they want us to do. They make offers on security too because it benefits them through their overseas territories, but it is not embedded in the agreement.The data collected therefore supports the view at the start of this discussion that free trademust be seen for what it truly is- a tool which is most beneficially utilised by large,industrialised economies and the search for new markets underlies the efforts to inculcate freetrade practices in the South. Development assistance representing only a small fraction ofprojected European earnings- particularly financial aid- must be viewed as the most basic ofsweeteners in the EPA deal. A great deal of emphasis, as illustrated, is not placed on theseprovisions as it is not of primary concern to the dominant actors in the international politicaleconomy. Research also revealed that funding of the EDF is undertaken by the EU as best asit can and there exists some confusion with how funding will be allocated to the region. Thereality is that Caribbean states may come away with much less in practice than they wouldhave appeared to have received on paper. Interviewee: I know that we have been doing some training. I know within the joint-Parliamentary Assembly we asked for more support to come to our countries to do more training for our people so that we wouldn’t face sanctions. Because part of that difficulty too is Page 22 of 34
  23. 23. the new nations which are coming into the EU they are pulling up on all the EU Development Funds which is making it harder for us to have it. So anything that’s not used get’s cut down. Interviewer: It goes back? Interviewee: No no. It gets cut down Interviewer: For the next year? Interviewee: No it gets reduced and then they take off a portion and keep it within EU. So that’s really what is happening. It makes it harder for us to come in because of procurement guidelines, registration of persons as contractors or providing professional services, certification…all of those matters we will have to look at now.The Un-sustainability of EPA DevelopmentConcerns surrounding the possibility of dumping of cheap European imports on local marketshave occupied a central place in the EPA dialogue. Europe has enjoyed a high level of outputfor some time due to its technological advances and government subsidies under the EUCommon Agricultural Policy (CAP).On the issue of negative effect of the EPA on Caribbean development an interviewee stated: “Ahm…I believe that you will find there are certain types of small businesses going out of business too as they are having more difficulties. Remember that this agreement is going to sooner or later bring far more European products into our market. It’s a reciprocal agreement. It’s the kind Page 23 of 34
  24. 24. of agreement which eventually becomes reciprocal. So it some of our businesses are not terribly efficient at what they do- we have a large number of very small businesses that cannot even manage to export to CARICOM.”The collapse of specific industries such as sugar is a distinct possibility as actors may opt orbe forced to close operations when faced with direct competition from cheaper Europeanproduce. The neo-liberal prescription posited as the solution to this problem- comparativeadvantage- also poses a devastating threat to local industry. Comparative advantagepreferences specialisation in those areas where producers exhibit market dominance andenjoy greater competitiveness. This theory, upon critique, represents another attempt to applythe policies which succeeded in the global North to the South irrespective of its specialcircumstances and divergent experiences.The potential de-industrialisation of Caribbean economies within this difficult environmentwould compromise rather than enhance regional economic growth and viability.The Caribbean economies have the potential to become increasingly dependent on FDI andutilized as mere processing zones as the bulk of support is expected to be channelled intoencouraging investment and enhancing economic capacity in the short to medium term. In anenvironment where ‘hot money’ or temporary injections into an economy are commonplace,the EPA may stimulate unsustainable ‘hyper-growth’ which produces dependence climateeconomic instability. In the event that investments stimulated are no longer available-investors opt to relocate in search of lower costs and so on- economic decline may poseserious threats. Particularly where one considers the limited financial obligations made tofacilitate and assist with a programme of social development in areas such as education andtechnology which are seen as the engines of growth. The sustainability of development underthe EPA is subject to a great deal of speculation. Page 24 of 34
  25. 25. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) has also consistently criticizedthe region’s governments for embarking on a “race to the bottom to attract foreign investors”and argues that “the cost of a worker hired under the flexible terms that prevail today ischeaper than the cost of buying, maintaining and disciplining slaves” during the region’s earlyhistory.7 The EPA is likely to further marginalise the regions workers under conditions of lowwages which, in fact, has been used as a dubious marketing strategy by some Caribbeanheads of government8. As such, what is being proposed is a temporary and incomplete boostto regional economies met with very little socio-economic gain or capabilities enhancementwithin local communities.Socio-economic InstabilityAs a result of the limited income-earning options available to the small economies of theregion, countries have become dependent on revenue earned from taxation which includesimport tariffs. Caribbean states “rely more heavily on foreign trade as a source of revenue viaimport duties and licenses than their hemispheric neighbours” (Serbin and Bryan 1996:123).These states will be forced to increase the levels of domestic taxation. In responding to thequestion “What are the weaknesses, if any, of the EPA which was initialled in December2007”, the interviewee posited that several aspects of the agreement and negotiations- thevast differences in size between the parties and late preparation to name a few- concludedthat these weaknesses would increase the burden on domestic consumers: “Our taxes are going to go up (nod). Tax internally (pause). Domestic taxes are going to go up significantly (emphasis). Cost of living”7 Fifteenth Continental Conference, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, http://www.orit-ciosl.org/debate/basedoc.html, July 4, 2002.8 Jamaica Prime Minister Bruce Golding emphasised in talks with the European Investment Bank (EIB) that European firms would “benefit from lower wagerates” by relocating their operations to the Caribbean in Myers, The Daily Gleaner, 1 February, 2008. Page 25 of 34
  26. 26. This will further constrain regional governments’ ability to provide social welfare services, andnecessary infrastructure. It is believed that a backlash in the face of socio-economic hardshipis imminent in Jamaica and across the wider Caribbean. The interview also introduced thediscourse of resistance (‘riots’, ‘frustration’) which has been examined in previous scholarshipby Bryan. He states, “further impoverishment of the masses through the fiscal inability ofgovernments could have dire consequences” (Bryan 1995).Undermining Caribbean InstitutionsThe ongoing disagreement on various aspects of institutional strengthening within CARICOMand the implementation of the CSME has brought regional governments to a virtual stand-still.As Girvan points out, the decisions on EPA trade matters to be taken by the jointCARIFORUM-EC Council are ‘binding on the Parties’ which ‘shall take all measuresnecessary to implement them’. He contends that it endows the body with “greater legalpowers over member states than the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM,CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) or any other organ ofthe Caribbean Community established by the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas” (Girvan 2008).It is commonplace in trade agreements that bodies such as the Council administer theimplementation of “dynamic” international agreements. However, it is the spirit of thecommitment which contravenes the regional process. CARIFORUM undertook an initiativewhich regional Heads of Government are yet to agree upon. The study revealed they are“signing away a lot of their ability to maintain that control.”Also despite the direct involvement of the CRNM in the negotiation process, CARICOM andother regional institutions will play no part in the implementation and monitoring of the tradeand development partnership it having been agreed with CARIFORUM. From a legalstandpoint CARIFORUM has not been institutionalised. It has often been aligned toCARICOM and functioned through that mechanism. However, under the terms of the Page 26 of 34
  27. 27. agreement the, CARICOM institutions such as the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) will havevery little input into the way in which the relationship with the EU proceeds. The EU, however,has the necessary institutional capacity to exert such influence as to secure its interest as agroup.The data collected revealed a distinct emphasis on the need for leadership at the domesticand regional levels from governments, organisation and civil society in ensuring that thedevelopment of the Caribbean is given priority. Research spoke to “deliberate, proactivepolicies and strategies” (Hamiltion), “quality of leadership” (Interviewee).Coupled with the loss of momentum in finalising regional commitments due to lengthynegotiations, the non-completion of regional arrangements prior to establishing externallinkages calls into question the commitment of regional government’s. The region’s statedgoals of unity, common action and integration may be illustrated through the joint negotiationof the EPA vis-à-vis the CRNM. According to Byron and Lewis, the CARIFORUM proved“disarticulate” in a negotiation process which lacked transparency for much of the region’sstakeholders (Byron and Lewis 2007). The sheer difficulty in accessing draft texts of theagreement up to this point and limited public consultations also contributed to a distinctivelyun-integrated process for Caribbean people who will be expected to ‘own’ the EPA.ConclusionPerhaps the most telling utterance in this study came towards the end of the interview withone UWI academic who was contrite in stating: “…while I feel that some liberalisation is necessary, I am- I am not sure I think complete trade liberalisation in very unequal circumstances is necessarily thing for our economies. I am not certain that I think globalisation (emphasis) is the best thing for everybody. Because I think that it will benefit some parts of the world and some size economies more Page 27 of 34
  28. 28. than others. But I don’t think it’s something that automatically benefits everybody. And I think that our countries need to be able to retain some control over their parliaments and over their development process, and they’re signing away a lot of their ability to maintain that control. So if they want to do something to nurture a particular sector or to preserve an environmental…they would have signed away that. Probably unknowingly because they would not have envisaged that this situation would arise at some time. But these situations do arise. And so there are possible benefits but they are not automatic and maybe 100% trade liberalisation is not really the best thing, what is interesting is to see the debates on trade liberalisation in countries that formerly used to benefit from it. For instance, the United States is no longer as rosy; it doesn’t look through rose coloured spectacles at globalisation in the same was as it used to. Because all of a sudden is on the scene and China is reaping greater benefits and other players are more competitive in certain sectors and you see people backing off from globalisation very fast. So that’s when you realise that we’re fed a lot of- there’s a lot of propaganda that we are fed to make us go along with things. That doesn’t mean that it is the only truth that exists. It is somebody’s truth (emphasis) because they want it to be the truth- it doesn’t have to be our truth (with sarcasm).”It is in international trade agreements and economy that self-interest is often most clearlynoted among states. The view of the developed world as benevolent and pacts aspartnerships is utopian at best and manipulation at worst. Page 28 of 34
  29. 29. The development discourse is fraught with claims and counter-claims regarding the role offree trade and the market in promoting and sustaining meaningful growth. Simply put, it hasnot been proven that liberal trade by itself stimulates the kind of development which tricklesdown to the majority and creates more options for empowerment and improves access tothese options on a large scale. However, there have been few studies done which disprovethe opinion that the economies of SIDS and LDCs pay a high cost for DFQF market access.There have been even fewer qualitative studies undertaken to examine the social effects. It isproposed by the findings of this study that Sen’s conceptualisation of development infacilitating the ‘freedom’ of the smallest actors and marginalised peoples (Sen 1999) does notfind its way to the negotiating table. That the terms and conditions of development cooperationembodied in agreements including the EPA focus primarily on markets, profit, production andnot enough on those areas which benefit people- health, housing, training and education, foodsecurity and the environment.The discourses surrounding EPAs highlighted above have been dominated by theindustrialised states in Europe and North America in terms of influencing the outcomes(power). They also point to the Westernisation of development and the ‘othering’ of weakerstates. The trade paradigm has shifted according to the aims and circumstances of morepowerful economic actors. The paradigm shift has necessitated the negotiation of space-uncomfortable and insufficient as it may be- by the ‘out-group’ of LDCs within the politicaleconomy.The specific discourse on the impact of the EPA on Caribbean development is firmly rooted inconjecture at this point. The certainty with which its negotiators- Falkenburg, Bernal, Lodgeand Humphrey – have predicted the benefit is distinctly pitted against the thought observedamongst the majority of Caribbean stakeholders’ inability to conceive of it as such particularlywithin the current environment. This uncertainty has spurred the region into action and Page 29 of 34
  30. 30. recently greater attention has been paid within regional Houses of Parliament, amongstprivate sector representatives, training and accreditation agencies, within the academy as wellas at the grassroots to the EPA; what it could mean and how to prepare for the outcomes- bethey good or bad. One could say this is the positive impact noted.Deliberate and integrated effort having previously proven elusive within the region, the EPAmay unite the region out of fear from threat. A compromise between the arguments has beennoted- the EPA may not have been ideal for the region at this time but it was required by moreinfluential global realities including the ideological shift towards free trade. We have also notedthat there will be ill-effects at the domestic level with increase in taxation and suppression ofwages, the collapse of local businesses and the inability of governments to reinvest in socialwelfare due to financial constraints. However, there are potential benefits- but they are not“automatic”. The most significant possibility of the EPA for Caribbean development, as aresult, is believed to be possibility itself. Page 30 of 34
  31. 31. ReferencesBooks and PublicationsA Caribbean Reader on Development edited by Judith Wedderburn, Kingston: Friedrich EbertSiftung, 1986Bloomaert, Jan. Discourse: Key Topics in Sociolinguistics, Cambridge: Cambridge UniversityPress, 2005Bryan, Anthony. The Caribbean: New Dynamics in Trade and Political Economy, TransactionPublishers, New Jersey, 1995CARICOM Secretariat, CARICOM: Our Caribbean Community: An Introduction, CARICOMSecretariat, Georgetown, 2004Denzin, Norman and Lincoln, Yvette. The Landscape of Qualitative Research, London: SagePublishing, 2003Enloe, Cynthia. Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of InternationalPolitics, Berkley: University of California Press, 1990Girvan, Norman. “Notes on the Meaning and Significance of Development” in Gender inCaribbean Development edited by Patricia Mohammed and Catherine Shepherd, Chapter 2,Kingston: Canoe Press, 1999Maykut, Pamela and Morehouse, Richard. Beginning Qualitative Research: A Philosophic andPractical Guide, London: Routledge Falmer, 1994Neuendorf, Kimberly. The Content Analysis Guidebook, Thousand Oaks: Sage Publishing,2002 Page 31 of 34
  32. 32. Nussbaum, Martha. Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach, New York:Cambridge University Press, 2000Sen, Amrtya. Development as Freedom, New York: Alfred Knopf (Anchor Books), 1999Serbin, Andres and Bryan, Anthony. Distant Cousins: The Caribbean-Latin AmericanRelationship, University of Miami North-South Centre, Miami, 1996.Strauss, Anselm and Corbin Juliet. Basics of Qualitative Research: Grounded TheoryProcedures and Techniques, London: Sage Publishing, 1990Sumser, John. A Guide To Empirical Research In Communication: Rules For Looking.Thousand Oaks: Sage Publishing, 2001.Titscher, Stefan, Meyer, Michael, Wodak, Ruth and Vetter, Eva. Methods of Text andDiscourse Analysis, London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi: Sage Publishing, 2000UNDP Human Development Report 1998, New York: Oxford University Press, 1998ArticlesByron, Jessica and Lewis, Patsy. “Formulating Sustainable Development Benchmarks for anEU-CARIFORUM EPA: Caribbean Perspectives”, University of the West Indies, Mona,September 2007Declaration of the Haitian Coalition, “Block the EPA”, Port-au-Prince, 17 October 2007Lundy, Patricia. “Limitations of Quantitative Research in the Study of Structural Adjustment” inSocial Science and Medicine Volume 42, No. 3, 1996,Myers, John. “Golding Slams EPA Critics” in The Daily Gleaner, 1 February 2008 Page 32 of 34
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  34. 34. Information Service, “Implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy”http://www.jis.gov.jm.special_sections/CARICOMNews.CSME1.htmlJamaica Information Service, “The CARICOM Single Market Up Close”,http://www.jis.gov.jm/special_sections/caricomnew/TheCARICOMSingleMarket.htmlLodge, Junior. “CARIFORUM EPA Negotiations: An Initial Reflection”, Caribbean RegionalNegotiating Machinery website (CRNM)http://www.crnm.org/documents/ACP_EU_EPA/epa_agreement/TNI_240108_FINAL.pdfOXFAM Briefing Paper, “Stop the Dumping: How EU Agricultural Subsidies Are Damaging theLivelihoods in the Developing World”, October 2002http://www.globalpolicy.org/socecon/trade/subsidies/2002/10stopdumping.pdfReport on the Fifteenth Continental Conference, International Confederation of Free TradeUnions, July 4, 2002, http://www.orit-ciosl.org/debate/basedoc.htmlThe Caribbean Negotiating Machinery website, www.crnm.orgThe World Factbook, United States Central Intelligence Agency,https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ee.htmlUnited Nation Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Report,“The Impact of Trade Liberalisation on Government Finances in Jamaica”, 1 November 1999,http://www.eclac.org/publicaciones/xml/7/10237/carg0574.pdf Page 34 of 34