GEORGETOWN, Guyana: Negotiations for a Trade and Development Agreement between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Canada are set to begin in early November.
The decision was made at a preparatory meeting between ministers of both parties in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
CARICOM co-chairman of the session, Senator Mariano Browne, Minister of Trade and Industry and Minister in the Ministry of Finance of Trinidad and Tobago, said at a press conference following the meeting that the discussions were positive.
Browne said the meeting had set the tone for the negotiations and was a great first step. He also referred to the development dimension of the negotiations which he said should aid in the development of the institutional capacity of the region.
Canada’s Minister of International Trade and for Asia-Pacific Gateway, Stockwell Day, said the conclusion of the agreement was important as both sides would be working together to provide opportunities for jobs and investment.
Minister Day said the preparatory meeting had set a framework of principles from which the technical experts could fashion an agreement that would be of mutual benefit. Day also said development must accompany trade.
Currently, trade and economic relations between CARICOM and Canada are covered under a number of instruments, including the 1979 CARICOM-Canada Trade and Economic Co-operation Agreement and its Protocols, including the 1998 Protocol on Rum and the Caribbean-Canada Trade Agreement (CARIBCAN), which grants unilateral duty free access to eligible goods from beneficiary countries in the English-speaking Caribbean up to 2011.
Two-way merchandise trade between CARICOM and Canada averaged more than US$700 million over the last 10 years with a surplus averaging more than US$60 million in favour of the region.