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Caricom-Canada Trade Talks to Begin in NovemberWednesday, September 16, 2009 > 09:49:51
The Caribbean Community (Caricom) and Canada are set to begin negotiations for a Trade and Development Agreement in early November. According to a news release from the Caricom Secretariat at Turkeyen, this decision was made at a preparatory meeting last Friday in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
Caricom Co-chairman of the session, Mariano Browne, Minister of Trade and Industry and Minister in the Ministry of Finance of Trinidad and Tobago said at a press conference following the meeting at the Trinidad Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre that it had set the tone for the negotiations and was a great first step.
He also alluded to the development dimension of the negotiations which he said should, among other things, aid in the development of the institutional capacity of the region. Browne is Caricom’s lead minister in the negotiations.
Also at the meeting were Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, Michael Church, Minister of the Environment, Foreign Trade and Export Development of Grenada, Marlene Malahoo Forte, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica and Joanne Massiah, Minister of State in the Ministry of Legal Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda. Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and for Asia-Pacific Gateway represented Canada.
According to the release, Day said the conclusion of the agreement was important as both sides would be working together to provide opportunities for jobs and investment. The preparatory meeting, he said, had set a framework of principles from which the technical experts could fashion an agreement that would be of mutual benefit. He noted too that development must accompany trade.
Currently, trade and economic relations between Caricom and Canada are covered under a number of instruments, including the 1979 Caricom-Canada Trade and Economic Co-operation Agreement and its Protocols, including the 1998 Protocol on Rum; CARIBCAN which grants unilateral duty free access to eligible goods from beneficiary countries in the English-speaking Caribbean up to 2011.
Two-way merchandise trade between Caricom and Canada averaged more than US$700 million over the last ten years with a surplus averaging more than US$60 million in favour of the region, the release added.