Decisiveness, alacrity needed to confront challenges – COTED Chair

Delegates at the Meeting
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Ministers with responsibility for Trade and Foreign Relations, in the Region began a two-day Meeting in Georgetown, Guyana, on Monday, against the background of difficult circumstances – trade, economic and environmental – facing the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Chair COTED, Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs of Dominica, the Hon Francine Baron

As such, the decisions that the Council made must support and strengthen the Region’s economic and social viability, Chair of the 49th Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), Minister of Foreign Affairs and CARICOM Affairs of Dominica, the Hon. Francine Baron said. Failure to do so, she said, could result in crippled efforts.

The Ministerial Meeting of COTED is underway at the Pegasus Hotel. The Ministers and other delegates have before them matters such as the implementation of the regional flagship programme – the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) – trade in goods and services and external economic relations.

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At the opening session, Minister Baron, and Assistant Secretary-General, Trade and Economic Integration, Mr. Joseph Cox, both referred to the situation that the Region was facing.

Placing the Meeting in context, Minister Baron highlighted the fact that the COTED was meeting at a time when the Community was “beset by challenges” and pointed out the importance of the “gathering of minds from across the Region” to confront the challenges.

She alluded to steps Member States were taking towards diversification of financial services that were attracting “unfair” threat of blacklisting; de-risking policies that threatened commercial and trading viability of the Region; graduation out of concessional and development financing; the challenges and threats to multilateralism; the “existential threat” of climate change, and “elusive” and “unavailable” funding to create a climate resilient Region.
“We applaud Barbados for placing on our agenda the issue of climate change and trade. We all witness the devastating impact of the Category Five hurricanes in our Region in 2017. Dominica, unfortunately can speak directly to its debilitating impact on our people, our agriculture, tourism and social sectors, and damage to our housing sector and to public and private infrastructure etc. all of which impact economic viability. We witnessed the destruction of two islands in The Bahamas in 2019. This is no longer a theory or a future event not to be witnessed in our lifetime,” Minister Baron said.

She added that the matter must continue to be placed on the agenda of every forum, and encourage and advocate for the mobilization of funds to meet “this challenge.”

Those and other challenges, she said, called for “us to work collectively and collaboratively as a Region, but more importantly to move decisively and with alacrity.”

She called for “mindset of compromise” to deal with the matters before the Meeting, and pointed out that to do anything less would be “to let down the people of the Region who we represent.”

In his remarks at the opening session, Mr. Cox also referred to the fiscal challenges the Region was facing.
“We continue to live in challenging times, not least in relation to the fiscal challenges that our governments face,” the Assistant Secretary-General said.

“We nevertheless continue to display a significant amount of resilience in our quest to build dynamic and innovative economies,” he added.

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