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Caribbean trade ministers urge “Made in CARICOM” initiative at annual meeting 

Posted: Thursday, December 3, 2020. 1:26 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: At last week’s annual meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), the Caribbean Community’s trade ministers unanimously endorsed a proposal to promote goods made in the region. 

Assistant Secretary-General for Trade and Economic Integration, Joseph Cox, explained that the Made in CARICOM initiative would drive support to regionally produced items at the national level, taking advantage of changes in consumer tastes and spending as a result of the disruptions in trade caused by the pandemic. There was a considerable opportunity for “regional suppliers to step up and reorient their business models and rise to the challenges and the opportunities that emanate from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added. 

The Ministers further discussed macro-economic responses to the pandemic such as tax reform, the re-introduction of growth resilience, countering supply chain disruptions and the restoration of fiscal discipline. Cox highlighted the discourse on digital transformation, ranging from joint procurement of ICT equipment to age limits on equipment; VAT holidays; and addressing the issues associated with bandwidth. He said some of the proposals warranted further discussions at the national level. 

Other items on the table included the Multilateral Air Services Agreement (MASA) which formally came into force in August 2020 to liberalize the regional air transport sector; the 25 in 5 Strategy which aims to reduce food imports by 25 percent in five years and the strategic opportunities that will emerge including land use mapping, financing options for the sector and cyber extension services. 

In related news, CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the CARICOM Private Sector Organisation Inc. (CPSO). 

The MOU outlines areas of cooperation towards the full implementation of the CSME, acknowledging that the private sector was well positioned to positively contribute to the CSME regimes of free movement of goods, services, labor, and capital.  

The CPSO is the latest Associate Institution of CARICOM, having been so designated on 29 October 2020. Its status is recognition of the need for more structured engagement between the Community and the Private Sector and Labour to achieve economic development and the full realization of regional integration. 

The Organisation attended and actively participated in the 51st COTED Meeting. ASG Cox said the COTED formally welcomed the CPSO with the confidence that its contributions and those of other sector-specific organizations that participate in COTED will help to move the Council’s agenda forward. 


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