The World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Inter American Development Bank (IDB), remain committed to the AID for Trade programme for the Caribbean.

This reassurance was given by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, at the opening of the WTO’s Forum on "AID for Trade for the Caribbean: Preparation for the Third Global review of AID for Trade", which began yesterday at the Accra Beach Hotel.

During the opening session, Senator McClean praised the WTO for ensuring that AID for Trade is kept on the front burner. She also thanked the IDB for providing resources for the advancement of the region’s agenda.

"All of us are aware that the current economic crisis has impacted our economies negatively. Much of the resources that our traditional development partners would have channeled to developing countries, has been diverted to deal with their own economic circumstances, but we have to recognise of course, that they have not abandoned us. They have not left us to deal, as best we can, with a crisis not of our own making. In fact, they have remained committed to the AID for Trade process and must be lauded for doing such," the Foreign Trade Minister pointed out.??????????????

Senator McClean added: "As small vulnerable economies, we have limited production capacities and are not predisposed to achieving economies of scale. We are highly susceptible to natural disasters. Quite recently, Hurricane Tomas reminded us of that when it devastated the agriculture sector in many of our islands."

The Foreign Affairs Minister stated that such a forum was needed for representatives from the region to discuss the challenges developing countries might encounter in their efforts to benefit from multinational trade.??

"We have argued that developing countries must be allowed to overcome the supply side constraints and trade related barriers which we face … We cannot accomplish that without the financial and technical assistance and support of our development partners," Senator McClean maintained.

She also stressed the importance of having a mechanism in place which would monitor the effectiveness of the resources received for the Aid for Trade programme.

"A central coordinating unit within each member state could thus prove essential in the monitoring of AID for Trade flows to the region. Barbados will be giving consideration to establishing the appropriate administrative infrastructure to coordinate and galvanise our Aid for Trade initiatives," Senator McClean explained.

Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary-General to the CARICOM Secretariat, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque expressed satisfaction with the level of support the region was receiving for the programme.

"At the regional level, we have received about $310 million US between 2006 and 2010 and there is approximately $220 million US in the pipeline for us, for the next five years," he said.

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