CARICOM member states urged to “Turn Crisis Into Opportunity”

GREATER GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Member States of the Caribbean Community have been challenged to grasp the opportunities that may present themselves as a result of the global financial and economic crisis.

The Honourable Dr. Kenneth Baugh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Jamaica, issued the challenge Friday at a Press Conference prior to the conclusion of the Twenty-Seventh Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED).

“We need to turn the crisis into opportunity,” Dr. Baugh told representatives of the media.

(File photo)Dr. Ken Baugh

At the two-day meeting at the Buddy’s Princess Hotel, Providence, East Bank Demerara, Guyana, the CARICOM Secretariat provided a report on the impact of the crisis on the Community. Senator the Honourable Charlotte Tessa Mangal, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Consumer Affairs, Saint Lucia and Chairwoman of the Meeting, said Member States had recorded a downturn in several sectors including Tourism and Services, as well as a decrease in remittances.

His Excellency Edwin Carrington, Secretary-General of CARICOM also queried whether it was not timely to review the structure of the integration movement so that the Community would be strategically placed once the crisis was over. Heads of Government of CARICOM are to gather for a Special Meeting on the evolving crisis in Trinidad and Tobago on 24 May.

With regard to the CARICOM-Canada negotiations for a Trade and Development Agreement, Senator Mangal said that talks at the political level regarding negotiations on a CARICOM-Canada Trade and Development Agreement could begin as early as next month. Discussions would be aimed at agreeing on a framework for and scope of the negotiations. Those discussions are also geared towards arriving at an agreed position on the development dimensions to be included in the Agreement.

At the Council Meeting, Ministers welcomed Haiti’s progress towards participation in the Goods Regime of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) with the recognition that once parliamentary approval was granted, the Single Market with respect to Goods would increase from six million to 14 million.

Secretary-General Carrington apprised the Meeting of the steps that were being taken towards the smooth transition of the Regional Negotiating Machinery into the CARICOM Secretariat as a specialised department. Heads of Government, at their 20th Intersessional Meeting in Belize in March 12-13 2009, had mandated the incorporation of the RNM into the Secretariat. Mr. Carrington said that work was going well and the final structure would ensure that the gains made in developing negotiating capacity within the Community were not lost.

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