Remarks by the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Dr Carla Barnett at the Launch of the CARICOM Interactive Market Place and Suspension Procedure (CIMSUPRO), 26 September 2022

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  • Your Excellency Chandrikapersad Santokhi, President of the Republic of Suriname and Chairman of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community;
  • Members of the Cabinet of the Government of Suriname;
  • Mr. Gordon Charles, Member of the Executive Committee of the CARICOM Private Sector Organization (CPSO) and Other Representatives of the Private Sector;
  • Ambassador Wayne McCook, Assistant Secretary-General, CARICOM Single Market and Trade, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, and other Members of Staff of the Secretariat;
  • Representatives of the Media;
  • Ladies and Gentlemen.

It gives me great pleasure to share a few words this morning on the launch of CIMSuPro, the CARICOM Interactive Market Place and Suspension Procedure, and to lend my voice to the “call to action” for suppliers and buyers of CARICOM originating goods to register on this online platform.

The launch of CIMSuPro marks an important milestone in the evolution of the way trade and business can and will be conducted in our Community. It creates a digital ‘Marketplace’ where regional buyers and sellers of regionally produced goods can contact and “contract” each other directly. It also introduces the potential for improving the efficiency in processing applications for a suspension of the Common External Tariff (CET).

While the Secretariat will continue to consult with Member States directly on requests for suspensions, the CIMSuPro portal will provide an important source of information on the review of all requests and over time, CIMSuPro can become a processing platform for such requests.

It is fitting that this initiative is being launched by President Santokhi, wearing his hats as President of Suriname, Chair of our Conference of Heads of Government, and CARICOM Lead Head on Industrial Policy, because it is Suriname that proposed the establishment of this online platform for the promotion of intra-regional trade to the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) some time ago.

Not only did Suriname propose this innovative mechanism, but it is also Suriname that facilitated the design and establishment of the platform. The Community extends its deep appreciation to the Government of Suriname for this contribution to the development of our Single Market.

For any market, including the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), to function efficiently, information on trading opportunities must be available. As we push for increased regional production and supply of goods, especially food items to replace our high and unsustainable dependence on imports, putting information on the availability of CARICOM inputs for manufacturers, as well as finished CARICOM products at the fingertips of regional buyers is absolutely important.  

External shocks coming from the COVID-19 pandemic, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and climate change, have made the importance of building resilience in regional economies even more critical. Disruptions in global supply chains continue to linger, high oil and food prices continue to push the vulnerable into poverty, and the scarcity of and resulting high cost of agriculture inputs such as fertilizers, has made access to these inputs extremely difficult.

In the midst of these uncertainties, the Heads of Government have redoubled their commitment to the CSME, as the best option for building economic resilience and safeguarding the welfare, gains and standard of living of the people of the Region. Increased production and trade will lead to the creation of new job opportunities, generate foreign exchange, increase the base for government revenue, and help restore fiscal balance, thereby improving our macroeconomic fundamentals.

One area that presents great opportunity for increased regional production and import substitution is agri-food products. Over US$3.7 billion in agri-food products was imported into the Region in 2018. To expand regional production and supply to reduce this import bill, producers and buyers must have access to market information in good time and in a user-friendly manner – the CIMSuPRO will provide this!

Of course, for the CIMSuPRO to deliver these benefits the portal’s database must be populated with information on products from as many regional producers as possible, and it must attract the buyers who use and distribute products across our Region. The Secretariat’s team will work closely with national trade officials who have been trained in the use of the CIMSuPro and all stakeholders, especially the private sector, to ensure that this important mechanism realizes its full potential and facilitates the expansion of trade in our Single Market.

The CIMSuPro is poised to become an important marketing website for products of CARICOM origin within, and beyond the Single Market. Both regional and extra-regional buyers and traders, as well as individual consumers would have an authoritative source from which they would be able to gain information on genuine CARICOM manufactured products. There is also the potential of linking this portal to other regional online platforms targeting potential buyers, including through platforms serving the tourism sector.

A successful CIMSuPRO could become a template for digital solutions in other sectors, especially in services which is the mainstay of regional economies.  Given the significant role that services trade plays in the structure of the GDP of the economies of most Member States, having a digital platform for sharing information on services in the Community and matching service providers with buyers could strengthen trade in services intra- regionally and beyond.

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, this ceremony today could be a game changer in regional trade and I am delighted that we are not only launching the portal as a platform for future use, but that we already have seven companies registered on the site and more are coming! 

I thank the teams of the both the CARICOM Secretariat and the Government of Suriname for their hard work to bring this project to this stage, and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for providing grant funding to support the project. 

Let me join our Chairman in inviting producers, especially manufacturers, and buyers to take advantage of this online system, which will be managed by the CARICOM Secretariat on behalf of the Community.

The marketplace is ready. Let us trade!

I thank you.

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