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Posted in: Statements from CARICOM Meetings by admin | 26 November 2008 | Release Ref #: 360/2008 | 2296

    (CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)   The Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) held its Twenty-Sixth Meeting in Georgetown, Guyana, 24-25 November 2008.

    Implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) including CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) and the CARICOM Competition Commission (CARICOM), and Trade in Goods; External Economic and Trade Relations; Standards; Legislation for Animal Health and Plant Health; Cayman Islands’ Membership of Caribbean Agricultural Research Development Institute (CARDI), were among the key agenda items of the COTED.

    The Ministers received reports on the status of operationalising the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) and the CARICOM Competition Commission (CCC), which were both launched this year.

    The Ministers regarded the operationalising of the CDF as a significant step in the advancement of the CSME. They noted that a Needs Assessment Survey was being conducted to inform the future Work Programme of the CDF. They also welcomed the new Chief Executive Officer.

    The Ministers noted the progress with regard to the implementation of the Free Movement of Skills, one of the cornerstones of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). The Ministers also endorsed the recommendation that a small working group be convened to review and make recommendations on the procedures for the various categories of skilled CARICOM nationals moving to other CARICOM Member States. The Working Group will also consider the harmonisation of procedures across the various categories and the security of Certificates and supporting documentation. The Working Group will consist of representatives of Barbados, Dominica (representing the Member State with responsibility for Free Movement), Grenada, (current Chair of the Standing Committee of Chief Immigration Officers), Trinidad and Tobago, the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) and the CARICOM Secretariat.

    With regard to Contingent Rights, the Ministers mandated Officials on Contingent Rights to give consideration to categorizing benefits that could be granted by Member States within the context of Article 239 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas under the headings of rights, privileges and facilitations so that the process on the development of a Protocol on Contingent Rights could move forward. The Ministers also urged the Council for Human and Social Development to provide policy guidance as a matter of urgency on health and education related issues with respect to Contingent Rights.

    In keeping with the declaration of A Community for All, The Ministers approved the admission of the Cayman Islands, an Associate Member of the Community to the membership of CARDI. The CARICOM Secretariat and CARDI have been working with the Cayman Islands on the strengthening of its agricultural sector.

    Ministers held preliminary discussions on the negotiating brief for the CARICOM-Canada Trade and Development Agreement. They underscored the importance of a development component to be included in the Agreement, and the necessity for Ministerial oversight of the negotiations. Ministers agreed to meet in special session very early in the new year to finalise the negotiating brief and to make recommendations to the Conference of Heads of Government in that regard.

    The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which was signed between the Caribbean Forum of African Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) and the European Community (EC) in October 2008 provides for the provisional application of the Agreement. The Meeting noted that fourteen CARIFORUM Member States have notified the EC Depository of the completion of the domestic procedures to facilitate its provisional application and that all the CARIFORUM Member States would have completed the process by mid-December 2008.

    With regard to the CARICOM-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement, the Ministers called for an early engagement with the Dominican Republic to address outstanding matters in the Agreement bearing in mind the time frames for implementation of the Regional Preference provisions of the CARIFORUM-EC EPA.

    Ministers also received proposals for expanding preferential market access under the CARICOM-Cuba Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement which should allow for greater trade between the two parties.

    The Meeting was updated on the discussions of the Bureau of Heads of Government regarding the impact of the global financial crisis on the Community. The Bureau of Heads of Government has encouraged Central Bank Governors to continue their work with respect to contingency planning in the financial and non-financial sectors as it relates to the likely impact of the global financial crisis on the Community.

    The Ministers were also apprised of the discussions of the Bureau of Heads of Government regarding Disasters in the Region particularly as they affected Jamaica, Haiti, Turks and Caicos Islands and Cuba. Given the severity of the impact of the hurricanes on Haiti resulting in widespread devastation and human suffering, a multi-disciplinary technical team from the CARICOM Secretariat will travel to Haiti shortly to assist in the relief efforts of that Member State.

    The Twenty-Seventh Meeting of the COTED will be held in Georgetown, Guyana, 23-24 April 2009 and will be preceded by a Meeting of Officials on 20-21 April 2009.

    25 November 2008