When the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) Ministerial Meeting, gets under way from May 9 to 10 in Georgetown, Guyana, several matters confronting the region will come under review.

Key among these will be the state of economies in the region, such as external trade arrangements and intra-regional trade issues.??

But according to Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, who will be attending the summit, a ???burning issue??? on the agenda will also be the CARICOM ??? Canada Trade and Development Agreement.

He said: ???There have been some setbacks and hiccups, but as a region we intend to press ahead in trying to get some form of agreement done with the Canadians??? We are going to receive reports on the state of negotiations and make some decisions in terms of the way forward.???

Stating that the Barbados delegation was also going to address the arrangements they have in place for trade with Cuba, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Colombia, the Minister noted it was necessary to see how some of these arrangements were working and how they benefitted the region, and the way forward.

Noting that there were some products imported into the region that had issues that were specific to them and not necessarily in Barbados??? interest, Minister Inniss said it was imperative that the state of economies within the region be dealt with decisively.

???One of the matters that we, certainly, will look at is in relation to the state of economies in the region, most of who have reported declines, or certainly, very little growth and this meeting will look at many of the underlying reasons and see what we can do at the regional level from a trade perspective to help stimulate the economies a bit more.

???This is important to Barbados since we have our own economic challenges, but also the CARICOM region is our main export market. We, therefore, need to weigh in on the challenges affecting our barriers and to ensure that we can keep the economy growing in the region,??? Mr. Inniss underscored.

In referring to Article 83, Mr. Inniss indicated that Barbados had signed it but at least eight CARICOM countries had not and this was posing a challenge in terms of this country benefitting from the amendments.

In relation to Article 164 and related matters that looked at the recent action by the Government of St. Lucia to impose a 70 per cent tax on Barbadian goods effective May 1, he noted: ???From Barbados??? perspective we are mindful that these are not matters that will be resolved in a two-day meeting in Guyana.

???We, certainly, intend to make the case that this particular Article needs to be revisited and we need to consider related issues such as beneficial ownership of some enterprise in the region and to ask ourselves the relevance of this Lesser Developed Country, More Developed Country mentality that exists today in the region.???

He stressed that Barbados would continue to seek to work through the arrangements to find ways of increasing exports to the region in an ???unfettered manner???, whilst at the same time ensuring the local market was not closed to others that may seek to enter. ??

The COTED Ministerial Meeting was preceded by the COTED officials meeting which was held from May 6 to 7.??


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