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COTED Chair Welcomes Progress On Caribbean Free Trade Issues

Thursday, February 18, 2010

On the concluding day of the Twenty-Ninth Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), Minister of Trade for Suriname and Chairman of COTED, Clifford Marica, welcomed progress made on the 20-item agenda, including progression towards the free trade agreements with third parties and the Caribbean region.

In particular, Marica welcomed negotiations towards a Trade and Development Agreement between the Carribean Community (CARICOM) and Canada, and disclosed that a further round of negotiations is to be undertaken during 2010, following the first round of negotiations held in 2009.

High on the Meetingís agenda was the consideration of a report on the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), the regionís flagship program that is working to significantly reduce multilateral trade tariffs. The report found that the CSME was functioning but there were gaps in the legislative and institutional/infrastructural framework that needed to be addressed. The Meeting recorded little movement on Contingent Rights. While there was an appreciation for the critical importance of free movement of the factors of production to the functioning of the CSME, member states continued to cite capacity and resource constraints as the main reasons for their reservations on some of those rights. Member states agreed to complete their national consultations on Contingent Rights by September in order to apprise COTED of their progress in October.

Amongst the other matters the Ministers dealt with were agriculture trade, development of the services sector, Information and Communication Technology for development, and the implementation of the EC-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement.