Los ministros de comercio del Caribe se reúnen para debatir sobre nuevas estrategias
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Trade Ministers have begun discussions on how to strategically position the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) to deliver on its mandates to the Community.
Ministers and their representatives, who were in Georgetown for the Thirty-Third Meeting of the COTED, placed their initial thoughts on the table on Friday 18 November, with the intention of devoting more time at the next Meeting of the Council scheduled for March to fully expound on charting a new path.
The discussions were held against the background of remarks made by both the Chair of COTED, Senator the Hon. Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados and Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, CARICOM Secretary-General at the Opening Ceremony of the Meeting. They both indicated then that there was need for a more efficient way to conduct business. They made reference to items recurring on the agenda which remained unresolved and the length of time it took for some decisions to be carried to fruition.
Senator McClean was of the view that it was a very opportune time for the COTED to review its performance, including its method of work, and “to strategize on its direction for the next few years taking into account the current global economic reality”.
Ambassador LaRocque also felt that the time had come for the Ministerial sessions of the COTED to be more strategic in its outlook. There was an economic cost to the time consumed in rehashing the issues without resolution, and it was fuelling frustration, he pointed out.
During the discussion, there was consensus on the need for a new focus for COTED, and among the recommendations and suggestions put forward were the need to place in context the priorities of the CARICOM Heads of Government identified in their Retreat in Georgetown earlier this year; the highly volatile global environment; the impact of trade liberalization on Regional economies; and the nexus between trade and development.
Deliberations are to be held at the national level, with input from the Chair of COTED and the CARICOM Secretariat. Recommendations from those interactions will then be tabled at the Thirty-Fourth COTED Meeting.
Earlier in its deliberations, the two-day Meeting was apprised of the endorsement by the Thirty-Eighth Special Meeting of COTED (Agriculture) of the Regional Policy on Food and Nutrition Security (RPFNS) and the RPFNS Action Plan. As part of the progress on the Jagdeo Initiative, Ministers were informed of an imminent Meeting of lead agriculture agencies in the Region to consider improving the efficiency and effectiveness of alleviating the key binding constraints contained in the Initiative.
Against the background of what Ministers concurred was as a worsening situation regarding food prices, the Ministers called for the acceleration of work and more short-term solutions to confront the challenge. At the national levels, concrete and practical measures – including production and consumption of healthy foods - also needed to be identified to bring relief.
With regard to the treatment of CARICOM Nationals travelling in the Region, Ministers underscored the critical importance of public education and sensitization on matters related to the free movement of nationals, another pillar of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). The Meeting identified early 2012 for the commencement of comprehensive training of staffers at points of entry in Member States. The Meeting also reiterated a call for the provision of adequate data by Member States to allow for analysis of the progress of the Free Movement Regime and difficulties encountered at points of entry. A formal mechanism for the receipt of complaints was also recommended for establishment.
Deliberations were held on the Harmonisation of Legislation on the Rights of Establishment – another of the CSME’s regimes - and proposals would be crafted based on a final report on the matter. Those proposals would be tabled at a subsequent Meeting of COTED.