May 03, 2013 News Comments Off on CARICOM Heads to discuss economic challenges at July Summit
– SG asks trade ministers to beef up CSME
By Neil Marks
With Caribbean countries battling multiple problems of low growth, high debt, and natural disasters, Heads of Government of the regional trade and integration bloc, CARICOM, will meet in early July to come up with solutions.
Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque announced this yesterday. The meeting is scheduled for Trinidad and Tobago.
LaRocque called on the group’s Council on Trade and Economic Development (COTED) to help craft the agenda for that meeting. He noted that while the agenda of COTED meetings mainly deals with the bread and butter issues, the Council must get the “big picture”
and help shape policies and strategies aimed at long-term, sustained economic growth.
Towards this end, he called for Trade Ministers to advance the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).
“The two Items are not far removed from each other as it is the COTED which has responsibility for the operations of the CSME, and discussions on the strategic direction must necessarily include your role in respect of the economic development of the Community,” LaRocque stated.
During their current COTED meeting, which is taking place at the Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown, Trade Minsters are discussing the consolidation of the CSME, as well as the strategic direction of the Council itself.
The Heads of Government have begun to look at the manner in which they conduct their meetings as they seek to extract the maximum benefit for their citizens from the results of their discussions.
At the Secretariat, the Change Management Team has been working assiduously, LaRocque said, to fashion a more efficient and effective organisation.
“Further, we will soon embark on preparing a Strategic Plan for the Community which will be drawing on the body of work that has already been done and will seek to prioritise the work programme of the Community over the next five years.
“It will also clearly delineate the roles and responsibilities of the Member States, Organs, Institutions and stakeholders of the Community in delivering on those priorities. In that context, the deliberations of the COTED on its strategic direction should have some resonance,” he stated.
And as the Ministers deliberate on the future role of the COTED, the Secretary General called on them to find a seat for the private sector.
“I have heard you lament about the absence of the private sector at the table. And the private sector too has been seeking to have access to the Council. As you deliberate here today about the future role and construct of the COTED, I urge you to consider positively the plea of the private sector to have a seat at the table of this Council.”
LaRoque said that any discussion on the strategic direction of the COTED and the Region’s economy could only benefit from the input of the private sector, through whom the policies enunciated by the COTED will become bread and butter issues.
Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, who is attending the meeting, also underscored the importance of the private sector.
“I would like to suggest that not just a seat at the table… perhaps we can think whether it’s once a year that we have a session with the private sector in whichever country the meeting is being held,” Rodrigues Birkett said.
She also suggested that the private sector of the community “get together as a regional association/organization, so we would be able to interact with a particular body.”
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