CARICOM ministers to plug development aspect in Canada trade talks

CARICOM trade ministers are urging a development dimension in  scheduled trade talks between CARICOM and Canada, the CARICOM Secretariat has said in a press release.

At a special meeting of CARICOM’S Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) which ended here Monday night, the ministers were especially insistent on the need for any agreement to have a strong development aspect, given the impact of the current global financial and economic crisis on the region.

The ministers also agreed to recommend for approval by the CARICOM Heads of Government the brief presented by the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM).

In addition, a core group of ministers will meet with their Canadian counterparts prior to the start of negotiations to find common ground on the treatment of development in the negotiations.

The release said further that following extensive discussions under the chairmanship of Minister of Trade and Industry of Suriname, Clifford Marica, on the preparations for the negotiation, the ministers also agreed that the Secretariats of CARICOM and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, in collaboration with the CRNM, would produce a document that focuses on the development needs of the Community.

The COTED ministers also discussed implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed between the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) member states and the European Community (EC).

Meanwhile, the ministers welcomed the establishment by the CARICOM Secretariat of an EPA Implementation Unit headed by Branford Isaacs, Adviser to the Secretary-General on EPA Implementation and Specialist on Trade in Goods.  The ministers see it as a key element in ensuring that member states were well organized to meet the requirements of the Agreement.

Discussion continued Tuesday at the Sixth Meeting of the Council of Ministers of the CARIFORUM and matters relating to institutional arrangements for the implementation of the EPA and approaches to the execution of the regional preference provisions were among the key issues considered.

Regional preference, the release said,  refers to the need for CARIFORUM countries to extend no less favourable treatment to each other than they extend to European countries under the EPA.

While considerable progress was made, further deliberations must be conducted before decisions could be made at the level of the Heads of Government of CARIFORUM.

CARIFORUM comprises the member states of CARICOM, the Dominican Republic and Cuba. However, Cuba is not a party to the EPA.

The CARIFORUM Meeting which was  chaired by Guyana’s foreign minister  Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett also considered developments relating to binding the EC’s Most Favoured Nation tariff on bananas and the implications for Caribbean rum exports to the EC.

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