CARIBCAN successor negotiations to re-start
CARICOM leaders stress that there must be a development agenda to negotiations with Canada on any new trade agreement between the two regions.
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Thursday July 12, 2012 – When Caribbean negotiators meet with their Canadian counterparts this month for the fourth round of negotiations on the a CARICOM-Canada Trade and Development Agreement they will once again be pushing for a “pro-development agreement”.
This was reiterated by Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders at the recently concluded Heads of Government meeting in St Lucia.
According to the communiqué released by the CARICOM secretariat following the three-day meeting, the heads of governments and their representatives present reiterated the region’s objective for an agreement that “would support sustainable economic and social development of the peoples of the Region”.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) waiver for the current Caribbean-Canada Trade Agreement (CARIBCAN) expires on December 31, 2013, and the clock is ticking for the two sides to complete their negotiations on a new WTO-compatible trade agreement.
During the meeting chaired by St Lucian prime minister Dr Kenny Anthony, the heads of government also underlined their serious concern about the impact that subsidies provided to multinational rum companies by the Governments of the United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were having on the Caribbean rum industry as it undercut CARICOM rum producers’ ability to enter their rum into the US market at competitive prices.
Noting that subsidies were in violation of WTO rules, the CARICOM leaders called on the government of the United States to work with them to rectify these discriminatory measures and restore the competitive balance to the US rum market.
There will be an extraordinary meeting of the CARICOM-Dominican Republic Joint Council held in October and the regional leaders expressed a desire that preparations on issues related to the CARICOM-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement should be expedited.
The CARICOM heads thus mandated the Council for Trade and Economic Development to ensure that progress was made in advancing implementation, according to the communiqué.
The 33rd Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community was attended by the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer; the Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart; the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerritt; the Prime Minister of Grenada, Tillman Thomas; the President of the Republic of Guyana, Donald Ramotar; the President of Haiti, Michel Martelly; the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson-Miller; the Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Dr Denzil Douglas; the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves; the President of Suriname, Desiré Bouterse; and the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
The Bahamas was represented by Frederick Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Belize by Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Associate Members in attendance were the Chief Minister of Anguilla, Hubert Hughes; and Derrick Burgess of Bermuda.