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COTED holds special session with Regional private sector Thursday

A special session on Thursday with the Region’s private sector will headline the final Ministerial Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) for this year as efforts continue to position the business sector to drive growth and development.

The private sector is considered a critical partner in the Region’s quest for economic resilience, which is a key element of the Community’s Five-Year Strategic Plan.

The Forty-First Meeting of the COTED will be held in Georgetown, Guyana 12-13 November. The Trade Ministers’ special session with the private sector on Thursday follows a re-engagement in May last year when COTED met representatives of the Region’s business community. Then, the wide-ranging talks covered integration at work through the private sector; the establishment of a conducive environment for business, trade and growth of the private sector, and by extension development of the Community, focusing on key issues such as transportation for people, goods and services to move throughout the Region; ease of doing business in the Region, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to improve efficiencies and competencies, and the effective utilisation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy as a single space. Public-private partnerships were also discussed. Heads of Government of CARICOM subsequently engaged Regional business leaders at their meeting in July 2014 and COTED continued its focus on the private sector during its meeting in November 2014.

The Hon Alva Baptiste, Saint Lucia’s Minister of External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation who chaired the May 2014 meeting with the private sector, will again lead the COTED discussions on Thursday. The challenges and priorities of the private sector, the sector’s view of doing business in the Caribbean, lessons learnt from various interventions, and how the COTED and the business community could provide support to entrepreneurship and innovation in the Caribbean, are among the matters that will be discussed during the special session that is anticipated to last about three hours.

Other matters that the Ministers will consider during the COTED are the implementation of the CARICOMSingle Market; Agriculture, including intra-regional market access and trade with third countries; Services; External Economic and Trade Relations, including the developments related to the Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement between CARICOM and Cuba, and the CARICOM/Canada Trade and Development Agreement.

On Monday at the CARICOM Secretariat, trade officials began preparatory work for the Ministerial Meeting.

At the beginning of the officials’ meeting, Ambassador Manorma Soeknandan PhD., Deputy Secretary-General of CARICOM, formally introduced Mr. Joseph Cox, new Assistant Secretary-General, Trade and Economic Integration. Though he attended the Special Meeting of the COTED on Agriculture held last month in Georgetown, this is the first Regular session of COTED in which Mr. Cox will participate.

In her remarks, the Deputy Secretary-General also lauded the tireless work of Ms. Desiree Field-Ridley, Advisor, Single Market and Sectoral Programmes, who acted as Officer-in-Charge of the Trade and Economic Integration Directorate from 2011 until Mr. Cox’s appointment in September 2015.

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