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Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Anthony Hylton, has said that CARICOM trade ministers must be prepared to block any trade deal, which added no real value to the region’s economies and would put Caribbean consumers and producers at a disadvantage.
Minister Hylton, who was addressing the 20th special meeting of CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in Montego Bay on February. 2, said that the region would be involved in a number of talks at the bilateral and multilateral levels and “we have to work to fine tune our regional positions and .prepare .to agreeing on a negotiated text that will capture all our concerns and serve to open up new levels of market access and new possibilities for the development of our local industries.”
The negotiations in which the region will be involved include the resumption of the World Trade Organization (WTO)/Doha round; deadlines under the European Union’s Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA); in addition to bilateral trading relationships with the United States.For the WTO meeting, Minister Hylton noted that, “we must be clear that the development that we failed to experience in the Uruguay Round is fully apparent in the Doha final package”, while “on the question of EPAs, we also need to focus on finding the right balance between forging new arrangements for trading with our European partners and our own regional, institutional and economic development objectives grounded in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas”.
He said he had recently attended a WTO mini-ministerial in Davos, Switzerland and would be happy to share some thoughts on the implications of the full resumption of the negotiations. “All of this of course, is based on a critical need to build consensus over the next six-eight weeks or risk the complete failure of the round”, he stated.
Minister Hylton further urged the trade ministers to find new and creative ways to looking at CARICOM’s relationship with the Dominican Republic, particularly as the country was “so intricately tied into the nature of the integration and enhanced business opportunities that were being sought with the European counterparts”.
The report of the two-day meeting, which concludes today (Feb.3), will be considered at the joint meeting of the prime ministerial sub-committee on external trade negotiations and the CARICOM Single Market an Economy, slated for February 5-6 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay.
Prime Ministers Portia Simpson Miller, and Owen Arthur of Barbados, will co-chair the meeting.