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CARICOM to participate in Washington hearing

WASHINGTON, DC – The Caribbean Community has accepted an invitation from the United States International Trade Commission to participate in a public hearing on Caribbean economic development in Washington, DC.

Assistant Secretary-General Trade and Economic Integration, His Excellency Ambassador Irwin LaRocque represented the CARICOM Secretary-General at the hearing on Tuesday, January 29.

The public hearing at the Commission’s building is entitled Caribbean Region: Review of Economic Growth and Development and is a direct result of the Conference on the Caribbean which was held in Washington last June.

The Commission was asked to conduct this hearing by the United States House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee which is led by Congressman Charles Rangel. A number of Member States of CARICOM will also participate in the hearing.

The request to the Commission from the House Ways and Means Committee requires the Commission to conduct a fact-finding investigation and to “provide a report that contains an in-depth description of current levels of economic development in the Caribbean Basin and an overview of the economic literature on potential Caribbean development.” The results of the hearing, Congressman Rangel told the Commission in a letter on November 7 would assist in identifying ways that US trade and aid policy could most help the Caribbean Basin and identify possible future development strategies.

Last June CARICOM Heads of Government, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and other Government Ministers, the Secretary-General and senior Community officials participated in the Conference on the Caribbean in Washington which included a summit meeting with US President George Bush. There were also meetings between the Foreign Ministers and US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, discussions with United States Congressional Committees, including the Ways and Means Committee, International Organisations based in Washington and interaction with the Caribbean diaspora.

Secretary-General Edwin Carrington recalled that this is the second invitation to US Government hearings that have come as a direct result of the Conference on the Caribbean.

“Last July 24th, the Community participated in a Congressional hearing on the issue of deportees and now this excellent opportunity has arisen for the Community to present its views on economic development strategies for the Region,” the Secretary-General said.

The fact-finding investigation will be conducted through both oral statements and written briefs.

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