Caribbean Countries Not Benefitting From Trade Negotiations

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Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean??

Even though Caribbean governments have taken steps to ensure their future economic development since the 1970’s, a government minister has lamented that the region has not gained the expected benefits from trade liberalisation.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, expressed this view today, while addressing local and overseas delegates attending a joint World Trade Organisation/Inter-American Development Bank Regional Seminar on Trade and Development for Caribbean Countries.?? It took place at the Grand Barbados Beach Resort.

In tracing the region’s attempts at integration, she cited the creation of CARIFTA, in 1972, CARICOM in 1973 and the region’s attempts to conclude the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.?? Despite these attempts, the Minister noted that sustained

development for small economies was difficult to achieve given the volatile nature of the world economy.

Following these efforts, Ms. McClean said the region had embarked on a path of trade liberalisation in the 1990’s that included the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Community.

However, the Minister alluded to the successful completion of the Doha Round of trade negotiations and an increase in aid for trade flows as "two deliverables that would greatly assist us".

Regarding the former, Ms. McClean explained it was envisaged at the launch of the Doha Round of negotiations in 2001, that the interests of developing countries would be the focal objective of the negotiations.

She pointed that unfortunately, the talks had been ongoing for approximately eight years and there were still a number of unresolved issues.

"Barbados and many other countries have been looking forward to the benefits expected to be derived from new agreements and we have been expending significant negotiating and financial capital to ensure that our interests are taken fully into account," Ms. McClean stated.

The Foreign Affairs Minister also disclosed that issues surrounding the relationship between trade and development were high on the agenda for the Ministers of Foreign Affairs who recently attended the seventh WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

"As I said then and I wish to repeat now, for us, the successful completion of the Doha Round, is one in which development is centrally placed.?? Without this, the results would be meaningless for us.??

Ms. McClean added: "new agreements must include features as flexibilities for small economies, effective market access, and the right to protect our vulnerable sectors."

She also called for increased resources in the area of aid for trade. "There must be new and increased resources to enable us to overcome many of the challenges we face.?? We need resources to address existing supply constraints, the capacity deficits we experience and to meet international standards for our goods and services, while simultaneously addressing our national, social and economic agenda," Senator McClean maintained.

jwilson@barbados.gov.bb

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