CARICOM to start critical review of its trade arm from today
The trade arm of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is to meet in Guyana from today to determine the direction of that body.
Among the range of matters for consideration, that Trade Ministers of the region will discuss, are the implications of the recent Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) decision in the Shanique Myrie case on Community relations; the recognition of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Economic Union in the Revised Treaty, progress on the CARICOM-Canada Trade and Development Agreement, trade in goods, and the consolidation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
CARICOM yesterday said that the strategic direction of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) will end tomorrow at Princess Hotel, Providence. How the Council approaches its decision-making and the general operation of the body will also come under focus.
The meeting follows consistent calls by Chairpersons and Delegates to successive meetings of the COTED for a change in the way the regional council conducts its business.
“In acknowledging the necessity for change, stakeholders often cited recurring, unresolved agenda items and the length of time it took for some decisions to be carried to fruition. At its Thirty-Third Regular Meeting last year, the COTED agreed that there needed to be a special session dedicated to examining its strategic focus based on priorities identified by the Heads of Government for the Community and the implications of the global environment in achieving strategic objectives.
One of the calls for change was made earlier this year, in March, when the then Chairman of COTED, the Honourable Oliver Joseph, Minister of Economic Development, Planning, Trade and Cooperatives of Grenada, called for the advancing of the work of the Council to send a signal to stakeholders, particularly the private sector, that the COTED was both concerned and responsive.
The interventions were reinforced by CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, who pointed to the need for a review of the operations of the Council to ensure it was more strategic in its outlook. There was an economic cost to the time consumed in rehashing issues without resolution, and it was fuelling frustration, he said.
COTED’s main responsibility is to promote the trade and economic development of the community. At the top of the list of specific duties is ensuring the development and proper functioning of the CSME.
The Council has responsibility for a range of sectoral issues, including agricultural and industrial development, development of services in general, transportation, tourism, energy and natural resources, science and technology, and environmental management and sustainable development. The COTED introspection coincides with the reform process being undertaken by the Community including a review of the operations of the CARICOM Secretariat and Community institutions.