CARICOM to urgently review request from Cuba for improving trade

CARICOMFlagGeorgetown, Guyana (CMC) — Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries say they will give urgent attention to a request from Cuba for additional preferential access to the markets of the more developed countries of the 15-member CARICOM grouping.

A communiqué issued after the 40th Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) last weekend said that the meeting “agreed to review urgently outstanding requests from Cuba for additional preferential access to CARICOM More Developed Countries which will pave the way for a Joint Commission Meeting between the two sides to be held by July 2015”.

The communiqué gave no details of the request but said that “special attention was paid to relations with Cuba” with ministers underlining “the strong bonds between CARICOM and Cuba, and acknowledged Cuba’s generous offer of duty-free access for a wide range of CARICOM products into the Cuban market”.

The communiqué said that COTED also reviewed member states’ preparation for implementation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement which was adopted at the Ninth WTO Ministerial Meeting in Bali.

It said that the meeting also received a delegation from the Republic of Kazakhstan which will be hosting an International Exposition under the theme ‘Future Energy’ in its capital Astana in 2017.

“Mr. Yerzhan Ashikbayev, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan in addressing the COTED called for participation by all CARICOM Member States and the CARICOM Secretariat in the Exposition,” the communiqué said.

It said that the weekend COTED “placed special emphasis on consolidating the work of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) to boost regional development” and that “extensive discussions” were held on procedures related to the Single Market, particularly with respect to establishing fully web-based, harmonised administrative procedures that would reduce the time and challenges associated with applying for documentation under the five core regimes of the CSME.

It said the harmonization also has positive implications for e-governance within CARICOM and that the meeting was held against the background of a continuing volatile global economic environment.

The communiqué quoted CARICOM Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque as having reminded delegates that utilising the provisions of the CSME to its fullest, was the best option.

He said the CSME, which allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across the region would “allow us to exploit the full potential of our human resources as our skilled personnel move freely throughout the Community.

“The easier movement of capital would help to generate much needed investment. Our trade in goods and services can only be enhanced by the removal of whatever restrictions still remain.”

The communiqué said that the meeting considered work to be completed towards harmonization and standardization of administrative practices and procedures; enhancing the effective functioning of the services and labour markets through standardized licensing, certification and mutual recognition of licences and certificates; and widening the scope of participation by stakeholders and beneficiaries in the process of decision-making, implementation and operation of the Single Market.

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