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RNM News Release 02/05 – CARICOM and Canadian Trade Officials optimistic about way forward in Trade

CARICOM AND CANADIAN TRADE OFFICIALS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT WAY FORWARD IN TRADE TALKS CHRIST CHURCH, BARBADOS – “Both sides felt that the meeting was constructive. Today’s encounter has provided impetus for forward momentum in a process that is the precursor to the commencement of formal negotiations for an enhanced trade arrangement between CARICOM and Canada.” This was the view of the Director-General of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM), Ambassador Dr. Richard Bernal, at the close of the Third Meeting of the CARICOM-Canada Joint Working Group on Enhanced Trade Arrangements, convened in Barbados today (March 1). Serving as a platform for the two sides to resume consultations, the Working Group was co-chaired by Ambassador Bernal on behalf of CARICOM and Mr. Ian Burney, Head of the Canadian Delegation, on behalf of Canada. The CARICOM Co-Chair underscored the importance of the two sides moving quickly to commence negotiations for an enhanced trade arrangement, emphasizing “CARICOM looks forward to the early start of negotiations, as an enhanced trade arrangement would seek to broaden scope and coverage relative to CARIBCAN, especially with regard to the areas of Services and Investment.” In considering the possible scope and coverage of the proposed enhanced trade arrangement, today’s technical discussions reiterated that ‘flexibility’ will be enshrined in the proposed trade agreement, to take into consideration small, vulnerable CARICOM countries. With respect to the scope of the proposed trade agreement, the two sides reaffirmed what had been previously agreed to as regards the primary focus being placed on four areas: (i) Market Access; (ii) Investment; (iii) Services; and (iv) Institutional Arrangements and Dispute Settlement. The two sides also renewed their interest in negotiating side agreements on Labour and the Environment. CARICOM’s objectives in an enhanced trade arrangement with Canada are to: (i) preserve, build on and broaden the scope of the current instruments of trade and economic co-operation; (ii) where possible, to deepen disciplines to improve market access for CARICOM exports of goods and services; (iii) to broaden the country coverage to include all CARICOM states; (iv) to stimulate increased flows of Canadian investment into the region; and, (v) to provide a comprehensive framework for development co-operation initiatives. CARICOM was represented at the encounter by trade officials from Member States, the CARICOM Secretariat and the RNM. Led by the Director-General, Bilateral and Regional Trade Policy Bureau, International Trade Canada, Mr. Ian Burney, the Canadian team was comprised of negotiators from Ottawa and representatives of the Canadian High Commission in Barbados. CARIBCAN is an economic and trade development assistance programme for the Commonwealth Caribbean countries and territories. Established in 1986, its primary objectives are to enhance Commonwealth Caribbean trade and export earnings, improve trade and economic development, promote new investment opportunities, and encourage enhanced economic integration and cooperation.

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