May 23, 2022 News
…says capacity needed in enterprise than govt and its agencies
Kaieteur News- Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has suggested to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), a reorientation of international assistance to their countries to serve in areas where it is most needed. He told a gathering at the recently concluded Agri-Investment Forum and Expo where he delivered his keynote address on constraints to growing the agriculture sector, that more of the money coming from the international community would better serve to develop the enterprising capabi
lities of regional nations, rather than the regular contributions to government agencies in the form of capacity building.
Jagdeo pointed out several areas where regional nations, and even as a collective, are disadvantaged in getting its economic concerns across. Competing, country size and getting pass trade barriers are among the many issues faced by the Caribbean Community. As such, Jagdeo said the regional Bloc must return with a zeal, to the issue of carving an international framework to deal with trade.
Too often, the international help comes to the government, Jagdeo pointed out. “That we are building some capacity in some ministry that just doesn’t do anything much for people. We need to get the international help to build capacity at the enterprise level, not in government ministries and regulatory agencies that sometime have very little to regulate and sometimes themselves are humbug to development. We have to reorient the international assistance,” Jagdeo posited.
He pointed to the impressive packaging of some small agro-processers who participated in the expo. He said because they had worked with an international group that helped with the packaging or longevity of their product, they now have an improved item to market. “That’s where the help comes in,” the VP posited. In furniture, he said manufacturers need designs, so a designer from abroad is needed, not someone sitting in a ministry telling the manufacturers what they must do, but someone to work with them on the enterprise level.
Outside of this, the VP urged CARICOM to also pay attention to the threat in the evolution of the global trade and development finance framework which has already not been favourable to small countries.
“We have seen a dedicated campaign to remove the preferences that were won and fought for since GAT (General Agreement on Trade in Services) and were part of the WTO (World Trade Organisation). But there has been a systematic erosion of that driven by large countries who say they want to help us. They will give us a small loan or small grant, maybe 10 million dollars but take away in trade preferences, 50million dollars. We saw it in the sugar sector and [with] bananas.”
Even regional policy makers become enarmed with the logic of what they are told that they become willing participants in the destruction of the intentional framework that is favourable for the developing countries. Speaking from practical knowledge, Jagdeo recalled that during the regional negotiating machinery involved in the regional economic partnership agreements with the European Union. “We had a major fight and some of our own people were fighting for full reciprocity, recognizing that under conditions of full reciprocity, we will never be able to survive in some of these markets.” He said the United States was pushing this matter at the time, so when former US President Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton came to the region, they were informed that in countries like St. Kitts, there are less people living there than the number of people sometimes living in a single building in New York. So that, such a country could not trade competitively on a reciprocal basis with the United States of America. This new international framework Jagdeo submitted must be led by leaders of CARICOM and their ministries.
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