CARICOM Heads to focus on global crisis at Belize meeting

The effects of the current global economic and financial crisis on the region and possible mitigating actions will be the focus of discussions when CARICOM Heads of Government meet in Belize City, Belize from March 12-13.

The two-day inter-sessional meeting will also consider the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed with the European Union (EU) and the status of negotiations for a trade and development agreement between CARICOM and Canada, according to a press release from the CARICOM Secretariat at Turkeyen.

The leaders will benefit from the deliberations of their trade ministers on these issues which were key items at a Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in Georgetown earlier this month.

The global crisis, the release noted,  had been under discussion by the community’s leaders since last November at the 24th Meeting of the Bureau of Conference of Heads of Government in Antigua.

The Bureau received submissions from the CARICOM Secretariat and the Committee of Central Bank Governors on the implications for the community resulting from the crisis. And further to those submissions, the Thirteenth Meeting of the Council for Finance and Planning (COFAP) meeting in Barbados in January considered papers from the Caribbean Centre for Money and Finance and the outcome of a seminar hosted by the Caribbean Development Bank on the possible implications of the crisis for the region.

Task Force

After consideration of the issue, the Council established a Task Force to recommend policies, programmes and approaches to lessen the effects of the global crisis on CARICOM member states.

The task force will present an interim report to a special meeting of the council in early April.

Meanwhile, the ministers had made considerable progress regarding the institutional arrangements to be put in place for the efficient implementation of the EPA, and among those has been the establishment of an EPA Implementation Unit at the CARICOM Secretariat.

The COTED had agreed to recommend to Heads of Government the negotiating brief for the trade talks with Canada with emphasis on the need for a strong development dimension, particularly in light of the impact of the current global financial and economic crisis on the region.

According to the release, other issues relating to the conduct of external trade negotiations that the Heads will deliberate on include the consideration of the governance of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM)

The CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), Sustainable Development, Justice and Governance, Crime and Security, Agriculture, and Preparations for the Fifth Summit of the Americas scheduled for April 17-19 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, are among the packed agenda of the Inter-sessional Meeting. The Inter-Sessional will be preceded by the Fifth Meeting of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Com-mittee on the CSME.

The Prime Ministerial sub-committee will review the performance of the Single Market which has entered its fourth year of operation, and will place focus on the movement towards the establishment of the Single Economy.

In addition, a status report on the Free Movement of Persons will be presented to the Prime ministerial Sub-Committee which has as its core members the Heads of Government of Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

With regard to the Single Economy and related challenges, the meeting will consider among other areas the finalization of arrangements for signature of the CARICOM Financial Services Agreement and the CARICOM Investment Code.

The CARICOM Single Market came into existence on  January 1, 2006 with the signatories of six member states, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Belize and Suriname, and the Single Economy is expected to be established by 2015.

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