Window of opportunities for Barbados with Canada
EXECUTIVE Director of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Mrs. Lisa Gale believes there is a window of opportunities for Barbados and the Caribbean to engage Canada. She said that this is possible since June 30, the deadline for the negotiations between the two parties on a CARICOM-Canada Trade and Development Agreement.
The negotiations appear to be over although neither side is saying this.
“For both parties the contentious areas of the negotiations are tariff liberalisation and services and investment,” said Mrs. Gale.
She pointed out that negotiations were expected to be concluded by the end of last month. Noting that the date was not feasible, the BCCI official in the organisation’s recent Newsletter that both sides have outstanding areas of divergence, pertaining to requests made by each other that delayed the completion of the negotiations.
The negotiations were started in 2007 and the seventh round between the two sides took place in Barbados over the period June 16-21, 2014.
According to Mrs. Gale, “discussion took place in the areas of market access for goods, cross border trade in services, temporary entry, financial services, investment, intellectual property, rules of origin, ICT, customs procedures, dispute settlement, institutional issues, trade related cooperation, environment and labour.” Gale who is also an Economist and International Trade Specialist, said a great deal of progress was made in substantially reducing the number of divergencies which exist between both sides.
“Progress was also made in the area of trade related technical cooperation,” she remarked in the Newsletter.
Recent press reports also quoted an official of the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC) as saying that although negotiations had concluded, there was more work to be done before a deal would be reached. “I don’t think that there is going to be much back and forth anymore. I think it has reached the stage where each side has decided fully what they are either going to accede to or accept,” Dav Ernan Kowlessar was quoted as saying.
At their summit in Antigua and Barbuda earlier this month CARICOM Leaders said in their Communique that they welcomed progress made towards a CARICOM Canada Trade and Development Agreement which had successfully concluded negotiations in several areas.
Canada is a leading trading partner with Barbados and the Caribbean.
The negotiations with Canada are to replace CARIBCAN, a multilateral facility which guides trade and other commercial contacts between the two. CARICAN has however expired at the end of last year after being given an extension beyond an original deadline. The negotiations had started the same year CARIFORUM countries had wrapped their Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union.
The EPA is currently being debated in the Barbados House of Assembly.