Measures proposed to reduce imbalance of trade between CARICOM and Brazil

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Brazil are keen on exploring ways to reduce trade disparities between them and to see greater investment flows towards the economic and social development for their peoples.

This issue was among those which gained attention at the CARICOM-Brazil Summit on April 26 in Brasilia, Brazil. While the leaders were satisfied with what was described as a “tenfold increase” in trade between CARICOM and Brazil – from US$ 657 million in 2002 to US$5.2 billion in 2009 – they expressed disquiet about “the great imbalances” that still existed.

Taking into consideration a mutual interest to foster economic development in their respective countries, they sought to explore ways to pare down the imbalance. Paramount among those actions was the signing of a Technical Cooperation Agreement that prioritised areas including trade and investment, agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, energy, tourism, transportation and financial services for enhanced economic cooperation between the two parties.

Several other key steps were taken which would ultimately stimulate the investment flow the leaders were aiming towards. These steps included agreements on the mounting of trade missions from CARICOM to Brazil; from the Brazilian Agency for Export Promotion (APEX) to CARICOM; and dual participation in trade and industrial fairs in CARICOM Member States and in Brazil.

The Latin American country’s affirmation at the Summit that it would become a non-borrowing member of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) was another significant move towards facilitating closer collaboration as was the reaffirmation of its commitment to commence negotiations for its contribution to the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF), a critical instrument for the provision of assistance to disadvantaged Member States, regions and sectors within the Community.

Further, in an effort to bolster the financial capacity to support cooperation development, they also agreed to hold a preliminary technical meeting in 2011, between the Brazil’s National Economic Development Bank (BNDES) and the Central Banks of CARICOM, along with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Caribbean Association of Indigenous Banks (CAIB) and the Association of Development Banks of the Eastern Caribbean (ADBEC).

As transportation is an essential link to increased trade between the two regions, the leaders underscored the importance of regular and frequent sea transport lines for the broader development and strengthening of bilateral and regional relations. In this context, there was an agreement to organise within six months, a meeting of port authorities and sea transport companies to identify pertinent measures aimed at optimising the flow of sea freight between Brazil and CARICOM Member States.

A meeting of aviation authorities, air transport and tourism companies was also expected to be forthcoming to rationalise measures aimed at maximising air travel and cargo transport between the two regions.

And, even as CARICOM advances its renewable energy agenda, assistance was on the way from Brazil, a major oil and gas producer in the region and the world’s second largest ethanol fuel producer. The Latin American country proposed a Brazilian Mission to CARICOM to explore the possibilities for institutional and entrepreneurial cooperation in this area.

Current efforts in the energy sector within the Region are geared towards developing increased energy security and sustainability through the implementation of a regional energy policy. The Summit agreed that efforts would be made to intensify relations in the field of research and development of renewable and non-renewable sources of energy and energy-saving methods.

The discussions on energy at the Summit had focused also on biofuels and the increasing connections between Brazil and CARICOM Member States in the marketing of biofuels. CARICOM and Brazilian leaders wanted existing associations to expand to facilitate joint studies on the feasibility of producing biofuels in the CARICOM region.

Specific to agriculture, complementary cooperation agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) were signed between Brazil and CARICOM Member States including Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Grenada, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines for specific projects to be undertaken in the agriculture and aquaculture.

Those steps, as well as a proposal by the Brazilian Agricultural and Livestock Research (EMBRAPA) to establish a Regional Office for Central America and the Caribbean were lauded as welcoming signs of intensified cooperation between Brazil and CARICOM.

The leaders’ commitment to deepening integration was further demonstrated in the establishment of a Joint Commission to supervise the implementation of the Technical Cooperation Agreement. Under the purview of the Agreement, the Commission would conduct periodic reviews; assess the results of the execution of programmes, projects, and activities implemented under the scope of the Agreement; and establish committees and sub-committees as may be required, among other things.

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