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Prime Minister P.J. Patterson will lead discussions on developments related to external trade negotiations at the 17th Inter-sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), scheduled for February 9 to 10 in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
Information Minister, Senator Burchell Whiteman, who made the announcement at yesterday’s (February 6) post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, said the discussions would include the outcome of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Meeting, which was held in Hong Kong in December; the status of African Caribbean and Pacific/European Union (ACP/EU) relations, with particular focus on sugar and bananas; and the status of CARICOM bilateral trade relations with key hemispheric partners.
The meeting, to be chaired by Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Patrick Manning, would deal with, “the fuller implementation of the CARICOM Single Market, and take into account the completion of arrangements for participation by all the member states in the single market, and very importantly, bringing into operation the Regional Development Fund”, the Minister said.
“The Heads will also consider the status of implementation of the new framework for the management of crime and security in the region. This was approved by the Heads during the 26th regular session held in St. Lucia in July last year and the matter will be taken forward during this inter-sessional meeting,” he added.
Against the background of the increasing cost of oil to countries in the region, Senator Whiteman noted that inevitably, the issue of energy would be on the agenda. “The Heads will look at the matter of the Stabilization Fund, which is supposed to be in place to assist countries, which are facing challenges in relation to the cost of oil,” he said, explaining that the Fund, which is financed by Trinidad and Tobago, assists countries in their poverty reduction efforts, which are constrained by oil imports expenditure.