Carrington lauds Canada as ‘special friend’ of region

CARICOM, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Government of Barbados on Thursday signed an amendment to the CIDA-funded Contribution Agreement for the CARICOM Trade and Competitiveness Programme.

The amendment reflects the new arrangement regarding the Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN) of the CARICOM Secretariat which replaced the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM), stated a news release from the CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen.

The Government of Barbados had undertaken fiduciary responsibility for the financial management and contracting on behalf of the programme.

The brief ceremony was held at the Accra Beach Hotel and Resort, Christ Church, Barbados.

Secretary General of CARICOM, Edwin Carrington, Minister Counsellor (Development), High Commission of Canada to Guyana Douglas Williams, and  Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Barbados, William Layne affixed their signatures to the amendment of the Agreement.

In brief remarks at the signing, Secretary-General Carrington expressed appreciation to the Government of Canada for its support, and pointed out that over the years Canada had proven to be a “special friend” of the Caribbean at the regional and bilateral levels.

“Our relations with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) have grown to the extent that it is now considered to be a highly valued international development partner for the region. Among the many important areas in which CIDA has provided grant assistance to the region has been that of trade and competitiveness, a most vital area as the region seeks to secure its place in the international economic and trading arena,” the release quoted the Secretary-General as saying.

And according to  Williams, the amendment demonstrated Canada’s continued support to the region.

Ambassador Gail Mathurin, new Director General of the OTN, also reflected on Canada’s contribution to regional development. She noted that Canada’s support was essential in enabling the region to develop its capacities to meaningfully engage in the international trade negotiations arenas.

She offered her personal commitment to building and sustaining “this fruitful partnership,” and added that the financial support provided under the Agreement would continue to be used to build and effectively utilize the technical capacities and trade negotiation skills within the region.

It would also improve OTN’s efficiency and effectiveness in the preparation for and undertaking of trade negotiations, especially with regard to strengthening its systems to facilitate critical stakeholder participation in the negotiation process.

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