No time for reticence, procrastination; regional integration efforts need to be redoubled – ASG Cox

CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General, Economic Integration, Innovation and Development, Mr. Joseph Cox
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“This is not a time for reticence or procrastination but it is a time for the Community to redouble its efforts in achieving regional integration.” – Mr. Joseph Cox, CARICOM’s Assistant Secretary-General, Economic Integration, Innovation and Development

CARICOM Organs such as the powerful Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) must remain actively engaged to provide strategic, timely responses to the current challenges that face the Community.

So said Mr. Joseph Cox, CARICOM’s Assistant Secretary-General, Economic Integration, Innovation and Development. He was at the time addressing the opening of the Fifty-Fourth Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development now underway virtually which is being chaired by the Hon. Paula Gopee-Scoon, Minister of Trade and Industry, Trinidad and Tobago.

Mr. Cox drew attention to the various challenges that were preventing development in the Region, including the impact of the pandemic and geo-political occurrences.

“Hence, it is critical that Organs such as the powerful Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) remain actively engaged in the strategic pivot required of the Region and be prepared to meet in Special Session as often as required to ensure that the strategies employed are optimised, timely and responsive. This heralds a period of heightened collaboration and partnership with all stakeholders. Emphasis is required on enhancing the implementation of the CSME with particular focus on the legislative framework underpinning the Single Market and Economy. Emphasis is also required on enhancing the responsiveness of our private sector to the opportunities that obtain. This is not a time for reticence or procrastination but it is a time for the Community to redouble its efforts in achieving regional integration,” the Assistant Secretary-General said.

The implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) is one of the key matters the Ministerial Meeting will address, as is the impact of the economic impact of COVID-19 on the Region.

Among the other matters on the agenda relate to the critical trade in goods items including updates on the Sectoral Working Groups to review the Common External Tariff (CET) and Rules of Origin(ROO); outstanding matters relating to non-compliance with the Revised Treaty; approval of Standards; and external trade items including the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Twelfth Ministerial to be held in June.

“We are therefore confronted with the fierce urgency of now, and therefore have no time for procrastination or complacency. It is time for action grounded in strategic nimbleness guided by pragmatism as optimised growth and development are paramount. So as we embark on these two days of deliberations, let us approach our work with the steadfastness representing our commitment to the Community guided by the maxim ‘In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity‘,” Mr. Cox said.

Officials met earlier in the month in preparation for the two-day Ministerial Meeting.

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