Chile proposes free trade pact with CARICOM

CARICOM Heads of Government have welcomed the proposal by Chile of five areas for collaboration, and to convene the CARICOM-Chile Joint Commission to concretise cooperation. Barbados has indicated a willingness to host the first meeting.

The communique issued at the end of the July 4-6 summit in Jamaica said the five areas of collaboration are a proposed free trade agreement with the region, a multidimensional approach to poverty, assisting in search and rescue missions in urban areas, environment and climate change and natural disasters including infrastructure restoration. 

They also welcomed Chile intention to make resources available through the Capital Fund of the Organization of American States.

The heads also expressed an interest in furthering collaboration in food security, the Blue Economy/Oceans, and trade promotion.

They reaffirmed CARICOM’s commitment to strengthen relations and technical cooperation links with Chile. Of Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera’s visit with the regional leaders, the communique said, the heads viewed it as an opportunity to explore the possibilities for further political dialogue and meaningful co-operation between CARICOM and Chile.

They also welcomed Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel and acknowledged the continued strength of the fraternal relations between CARICOM and Cuba which was based on solidarity, mutual support and technical cooperation.

They noted the need to increase trade and economic relations and Cuba’s proposal to appoint working teams to identify commercial opportunities.

They also noted the importance of increasing bilingualism among the youth of Cuba and CARICOM countries.

CARICOM and Cuba highlighted the need for a united Caribbean to exercise its control over the Caribbean Sea through conservation and exploitation of its economic opportunities.

The heads reiterated their call for an end to the unjust financial and economic embargo against Cuba and expressed concern over the reversal of measures taken to improve the relationship between Cuba and the United States of America. 

On other issues, the heads received the report of the 24th Meeting of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on External Negotiations and noted the importance of a strong multilateral trading system that places emphasis on development and special and differential treatment for small, vulnerable economies. They reiterated CARICOM’s support for an inclusive, rules-based and transparent multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organisation.

They expressed “deep concern” at escalating trade tensions arising from the unilateral imposition of trade barriers by developed and developing countries and the resulting challenges to multilateral trade rules.

They noted that the disruptive nature of trade wars among large trading countries has the potential to create instability in global markets, leading to a decline in world economic growth and adversely impacting developing countries.

They welcomed the progress made in the discussions between CARIFORUM States and the United Kingdom aimed at ensuring that there would be no interruption in preferential CARICOM/UK trade once the UK leaves the European Union (EU).

The heads welcomed the adoption of the negotiating mandate of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group at the 107th Meeting of the ACP Council of Ministers held in May 2018 in preparation for the negotiations with the EU for a successor arrangement to the Cotonou Partnership Agreement scheduled to be launched by August.

They reiterated that any new agreement should maintain the core geographic and geopolitical character of the ACP Group and that CARICOM would continue to remain actively involved in the negotiations.

They noted with concern the amendment the UK House of Commons approved to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill requiring the UK Government to ensure that British Overseas Territories, but not the Crown Dependencies, establish public registers of beneficial ownership information by no later than December 31, 2020.

The heads expressed their solidarity with the territories adversely affected by the unilateral action to legislate in areas of domestic policy constitutionally devolved to the territories without the consent and involvement of their people.

The action, the communique said, ran counter to an alternative arrangement to public registers earlier negotiated and agreed with the UK government and put in place at great cost to the overseas territories.

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