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MAJOR MINISTERIAL MEETINGS IN BARBADOS TO PUSH INTEGRATION PROCESS

A range of trade, economic and agricultural issues related to the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), is among the packed agenda for the Ninth Meeting of Ministers of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), which takes place in Barbados on 16th and 17 June, 2000.

COTED promotes trade and economic development within CARICOM and oversees the operations of the CSME.

Under a quasi cabinet arrangement instituted by Heads of Government at their Inter-Sessional Meeting in St. Kitts and Nevis last March, individual Leaders have specific responsibility for spearheading the development of the Community in critical areas. Barbados has responsibility for the CSME.

High on the COTED agenda is the progress towards completion of the Revision of the Treaty Establishing the Caribbean Community, and the implementation of the Protocols amending the Treaty to transform the Community into a single market and economy.

Other matters that will engage the attention of the delegates include Agri-Business and Marketing Development Initiatives, Agricultural Policy, Human Resource Development and Fisheries and Forestry Development – all of which relate to the Regional Transformation Programme on Agriculture (RTP).

The Ministers will also focus on outstanding issues pertaining to the Common External Tariff (CET), and the Common Market Rules of Origin. In relation to the services sector, they will consider recommendations from the Special Ministerial Meeting on Tourism and International Transport, as well as the Special Ministerial Consultation on Telecommunications, E-commerce, and Intellectual Property Rights. Consideration will be given to the Report of the First Meeting of the Working Group on Intellectual Property.

On the external front, the CARICOM Ministers will receive an update on the Region’s Free Trade Agreement with the Dominican Republic, and consider the proposed CARICOM/Cuba Trade Agreement.

This Meeting of the COTED will be followed by the Sixth Meeting of the second highest Organ of the Community, The Community Council. This Meeting takes place in Barbados on 19th and 20th June, 2000.

The Community Council, comprising Ministers responsible for Community Affairs and any other Minister designated by Member States, will address crucial Community affairs, such as the final agenda for the Twenty-first Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government scheduled for 2nd to 5th July, 2000 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines; difficulties in the Guyana-Suriname border relations (at the request of the Government of Guyana); the integration of Haiti into the Caribbean Community; and the implementation of Protocol VII (Disadvantaged Countries, Regions, and Sectors), amending the Treaty of Chaguaramas.

Ministers of the Community Council will study a progress report on the establishment of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ); examine the future of the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM); and consider the progress made on establishing a Unit to facilitate the integration of Haiti into the Community.

The Council is also expected to look at the proposed CARICOM passport which Heads of Government had agreed to at their Seventh Special Meeting in Trinidad and Tobago in October last year. This defining symbol of regionalism is linked to moves to strengthen the involvement of Civil Society in Community activities – another issue which will engage the Council’s attention, along with the staging of the Caribbean Festival of Creative Arts (CARIFESTA) VII in St Kitts and Nevis in August, 2000.

Delegates to the Meeting will also discuss the role and function of the Community Council as envisaged under Protocol 1, and examine proposals to reorganise the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD).

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