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Story Highlights

  • Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. AJ Nicholson, says CARICOM is committed to concluding a trade and development agreement with Canada, which takes into account the interest of the region as a whole.
  • The Minister was making a Statement in the Senate on May 16, on the 38th meeting of the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development, which was held in Guyana from May 9-10.
  • The Minister pointed out that the Sixth Round of Negotiations was held in two parts, the first in Kingston and then in Ottawa from March 31 to April 4, 2014.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator  the Hon. AJ Nicholson, says CARICOM is committed to concluding a trade and development agreement with Canada, which takes into account the interest of the region as a whole.

“CARICOM, in its ambition, requires this agreement to be asymmetrical, taking account of the fact that the region comprises small, vulnerable developing countries engaged in negotiations with a larger, more diversified developed country, listed among the largest trading nations in the world,” Senator Nicholson said.

The Minister was making a Statement in the Senate on May 16, on the 38th meeting of the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development, which was held in Guyana from May 9-10.

Senator Nicholson noted that in October 2013, both sides agreed, at the Prime Ministerial level, that the negotiations will continue until the end of June this year.

He said  that CARICOM has been working diligently to meet this deadline and to achieve an agreement which takes account of the interests of a region of small, vulnerable developing countries with trade capacity constraints.

The Minister pointed out that the Sixth Round of Negotiations was held in two parts, the first in Kingston and then in Ottawa from  March 31 to  April 4, 2014.

“This Round was completed with progress made on the text of the agreement and on non-controversial issues.  However, major differences between the parties remain on critical issues such as market access for goods (tariff liberalization), services and investment, development, and labour and environment standards, among other things,” Senator Nicholson said.

He stated that both sides agreed to engage in stocktaking before embarking on a Seventh Round of negotiations.

“CARICOM has already demonstrated a high level of flexibility in these negotiations. The conclusion of the negotiations requires flexibility on both sides. As of today, there are about six weeks remaining to the end of June,” the Foreign Affairs Minister said.

Meanwhile, Senator Nicholson said Jamaica and Canada continue to maintain a generally positive and mutually beneficial partnership.

He noted that Canada is an investment partner, a significant source of overseas development assistance, the second largest market for tourist arrivals, the third major trading partner, and home to a large Jamaican community numbering an estimated 300,000.

“Let me take this opportunity to express Jamaica’s appreciation to Canada for its development support over the years, in areas such as security and justice, among others. It is known that the road in any friendship does not always run smoothly, but the strength of that friendship is demonstrated in the actions taken to overcome the challenges that may arise from time to time,” Senator Nicholson said.