Mainstreaming trade into the affairs of CARICOM ‘absolutely necessary’ – COTED Chair

Saint Lucia Minister, the Hon. Alva Baptiste is presiding over the 55th Meeting of COTED
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Mainstreaming trade into the affairs of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is “absolutely necessary”, said Chair of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), the Hon. Alva Baptiste, Minister of External Affairs International Trade, Civil Aviation and Diaspora Affairs of Saint Lucia.

Delivering remarks at the opening of the Fifty-fifth Meeting of the COTED on Monday morning at the CARICOM Secretariat, in Georgetown, Guyana, Minister Baptiste highlighted the “serious issues” occupying the attention of the Region’s Trade Ministers.

“We are not navigating in ordinary weather and in ordinary times. We have to navigate the turbulent air pockets of the change from the old Bretton Woods era to the new neo liberal environment, and indeed, that airspace is turbulent,” Minister Baptiste said at the opening.

He expressed confidence in the Region’s ability to rise above the challenges within the constraints of limited resources.

“Mainstreaming trade in our affairs is not only of critical importance, but absolutely necessary for our survival. And so that environment that contains the seeds of our Region’s continued marginalisation must be dealt with in a manner that is positive progressive”, the COTED Chair said.

He added that as the Region faces large macro-economic challenges, it needs to respond frontally in the framework of an integrated world.

Ministers, representatives of regional institutions and other delegates are meeting virtually, and in-person at the CARICOM Secretariat.

Among the matters on the Ministers’ agenda over two days are the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) including the facilitation of additional categories of skilled Community nationals – agricultural workers, domestic workers and private security workers.

Under the CSME umbrella, Ministers will also focus on mergers and acquisitions, the implementation of the CARICOM Marketplace and Suspension Procedure (CIMSuPro) and the public procurement regime for the Community.

Trade in goods; external economic and trade matters, including the outcomes of the 12th World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference in June this year; and matters related to future trade agreements will be subjects of discussion.

The Ministers will also consider a number of Standards for approval.

Senior Officials met on 8-9 November to prepare for the Ministerial session. Minster Baptiste highly commended them for their preparatory work.

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