COTED to look at easing regional fuel, commodities costs

The Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) will examine recommendations to lessen the effects of the rising cost of fuel and commodities on the region’s economies at its 34th meeting, which starts today.

This matter was first raised at the COTED in May, at the height of the crisis in North Africa, which had triggered an increase in the prices of fuel that itself caused a hike in the cost of other commodities, a press release from the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Secretariat said. Discussions will take place at the two-day meeting set for the Princess Hotel.

On Monday morning, trade officials at the Secretariat began deliberations on the issue. Trade Ministers will also look at regional consumer protection and the recommendations from the report on the full integration of Belize and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) into the Caricom Single Market and Economy.

Regarding external economic trade relations, discussions will focus on the Caricom-Canada Trade and Development Agreement and the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement signed between the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states (CARIFORUM) and the European Union.

Ministers will also consider preparations for re-engaging the Dominican Republic on the implementation of the Caricom-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement, as well as re-engagement with the United States in the Caricom-US Trade and Investment Council. Discussions on trade matters with other third states including China, Costa Rica and Panama are also on the agenda, along with  COTED’s input with respect to restructuring the Secretariat, which had been the subject of a report by independent consultant, Landell Mills Ltd.

Heads of Government had mandated the assessment of the Community’s institutions starting with the  Principal Administrative Organ, the Secretariat, and received the report – ‘Turning Around Caricom: Proposals to Restructure the Secretariat’ – at their just-concluded Inter-Sessional meeting in Paramaribo, Suriname.

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