CARICOM Trade Ministers Agree on Non-Reciprocal Access for Some Haitian Goods

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ministerial Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) has given its support to a proposal for Haiti to have non-reciprocal access to the Community’s markets for some goods for a period of three years.

The COTED meeting ended in Georgetown on Friday and Chair of the two-day Meeting, Senator the Honourable Joanne Massiah, Minister of State in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Antigua and Barbuda, lauded the magnanimous gesture of Member States.

Haiti, which was represented at the Meeting, has drawn up a list of the products for which it is seeking non-reciprocal access. Member States have a short period within which they will review and provide their responses to the CARICOM Secretariat.

Senator Massiah expressed optimism that stakeholders in Member States also would lend support to the proposal which she said would go a long way to boost Haiti’s trade position in particular, and its recovery in general. Prior to the earthquake, Haiti had been taking steps to put the necessary arrangements in place to begin participation in the Trade in Goods Regime of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Among the other highlights of the Meeting, Senator Massiah said, were discussions on the review of the rules of procedures for COTED. The rules of procedure had an impact on how the Council did business, she pointed out, and made reference to the litigation the Community faced recently. The review is being done against the backdrop of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) decision in the case brought by TCL against the Community, as well as the recent legal action being brought against the Community by Caribbean Flour Mills.

The COTED Chair also referred to the deliberations on the Community’s external trade agenda which included the status of the CARICOM-Canada negotiations for a Trade and Development Agreement. Two rounds of negotiations have been held and a third will be held later this year.

Updates were also provided on the CARICOM Trade Ministers Mission to the United States, as well as on the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

The formidable agenda of the two-day Meeting included discussions on the CSME, with specific reference to a study to assess the factors and circumstances that constrained the full participation of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (CSME) and Belize in the CSME. The study was commissioned to provide recommendations on the way forward for the full Integration of the OECS and Belize into the CSME.

Discussions at the meeting also focused on the Regional Integration Policy on Public Procurement in the Caribbean, and on the operationalisation of the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) which was launched earlier this year in Suriname.

Ministers also received an update on the 9th and 10th European Development Fund Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme (CRIP).

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