Thursday 26th April, 2018 – A meeting of officials of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) opened at the CARICOM Secretariat in Guyana on Thursday with Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to CARICOM, Dr. Clarence Henry chairing the proceedings.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Henry noted that despite their several meetings over the years, the problems faced by the smaller countries of CARICOM remain unresolved.
“Colleagues, the challenges facing the smaller countries of CARICOM have remained despite our numerous meetings, and for that matter there is still need to ensure that the trade within CARICOM is fair for all members. All, no matter their size or resources, must experience the true meaning of CARICOM through appropriate measures such as Article 164,” he stated.
He expressed the view that for the COTED to remain relevant, it must act with pragmatism, astuteness and ultimately alacrity. “Accordingly, I call upon the Council to reassert itself as the champion or bedrock of Trade and Economic development matters. Let the Council’s weight be felt across the Community through our recommendations to the Ministers,” he declared.
Dr. Henry also voiced concerns about the efficacy of meetings, such as the current one, where some delegations are present in Guyana while others join via video conference. “We are convening this meeting via video conference, which to my mind reduces the time that can be spent deliberating on a matter. I therefore urge that you be succinct with contributions, for the efficient management of our Agenda,” the ambassador observed.
He said while he recognizes that there are some challenges in organizing the COTED meetings, which he noted often run into the night, he is reminding all that this is the premiere Trade and Economic Development Council of CARICOM and it must be treated as such.
Matters on the agenda for the two-day meeting include;
- The Draft Protocol on Public Procurement
- Regional Labour Market Information System
- Harmonization of the Trademarks and Business Names Laws and Policy
- Removal of Import Duty on a Family Shopping List of Items
- Market Access for Honey into Trinidad and Tobago
- Intra-Regional Trade – Market Access from Suriname to Trinidad and Tobago for frozen duck meat, and
- Future Trade with the United Kingdom, Post Brexit
This week’s meeting of officials is preparing the agenda for the CARICOM Trade ministers slated for the next few weeks, which Antigua and Barbuda will also chair.
COTED is one of the organs of CARICOM with a mandate to attend to matters related to intra-regional trade and overall economic development for member states.
The Antigua and Barbuda delegation also includes permanent secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Investments, Paula Hunte, and EPA Implementation Coordinator in the Ministry, Barbara Williams.