Aid for trade crucial for Caricom – LaRocque

At a ceremony in Haiti on June 11, to officially launch the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Regional Aid for Trade Strategy, Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque pointed out that in order to meet the objectives of achieving a viable and sustainable development path, Aid for Trade had become a vital element in the Community’s approach.

A release from the Caricom Secretariat said that the regional strategy presented a coherent approach to resource mobilisation that outlined to donors, investors, and international development partners how the region intended to utilise existing and future resources to help to strengthen its member countries’ participation in the global trading system by expanding foreign trade while fostering sustainable economic growth of their economies.

The Secretary-General stressed that market access had to be converted to market presence if member states were to compete equitably in the global marketplace, and expressed confidence that the resources made available under Aid for Trade would help in this regard. The Secretary-General also advocated for building the capacity of the private sector as a critical element in the Community’s ability to benefit from trade.

LaRoque said, “… The sustainability of our growth is largely dependent on the ability of the private sector to create or take advantage of entrepreneurial opportunities, provide the level of employment needed to keep the economy on course and give our people a chance to earn a decent wage.”

The release said that he also addressed the matter of graduation and differentiation, which prevented some Caricom member states from accessing concessionary loans, saying that unless urgent action was taken to change the criteria and adjust the policies, the debt per capita of some member states could escalate.

“The contribution of Aid for Trade to the growth and development of Caricom countries hinges significantly on the acceptance of the international community, and our development partners in particular of the realities of our situation. In so doing it would be desirable for them to provide additional sources of financing, especially in grant form and in a manner that is easily accessible. This calls for applying innovative mechanisms in order to supply the requisite financial and technical support to Caricom Member States,” Secretary-General LaRocque said.

The release said that the strategy had its genesis at the twenty-seventh meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (Coted) in May 2009 when Ministers decided that the Region should draft a Caribbean Aid for Trade Strategy that would include a holistic and comprehensive approach to competitiveness, adjustment and trade development.

Through assistance from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Commonwealth Secretariat, through its Hubs and Spokes Project, the document was developed after national consultations identified a range of issues to be addressed, among which were upgrading of key economic infrastructure; enhancing export competitiveness; diversifying economies; retooling the private sector; strengthening regional integration; and creating financial and other instruments to encourage and support innovation and research and development.

The release said that the heads of government of the community had also singled out maritime transport and information and communication technology as areas for the development of transformational projects using Aid for Trade resources.

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