Members of CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) were yesterday charged to work together, to strengthen relationships with the private sector and achieve economic growth and development in their countries.
This charge was given by Minister of Trade and Industry of Suriname, Sieglien Burleson at COTED’s 43rd meeting held at the Princess Hotel.
Burleson reiterated that there are many challenges faced by countries in COTED. “This raises many questions regarding our ability to transform our economic base, and the time has come for us to be responsible for trade and development, and partner with the private sector to enhance productivity and sustainable growth.”
The Minister noted that since the establishment of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), the goal is to achieve regional integration and growth within the community. The minister said this can only be possible if the countries work together. “We cannot afford refusal of market exit and burdensome administration procedures in place between each other, let us work together to achieve the bigger goal.”
Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary General of CARICOM, Joseph Cox noted that there has been a shift in attitude towards trade.
“We as the longest standing integration movement among developing countries should not consider ourselves immune to such tendencies, so our work is cut out for us, and our task is to ensure that all our efforts are pragmatic and strategic, and the structures we create are economically prudent and responsive to the wishes of the people of the community,” he explained.
According to a GINA report, Cox noted the need for faster decision-making and the implementation of commitments. Cox introduced the two newest members to COTED – Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Commerce, Industry, Investment, Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs, Bradley Felix of St Lucia; and Minister of Investment, Trade, Industry and Commerce of Belize, Tracey Panton.
Cox urged the two new members to give intense consideration to the matters being discussed, given that they are crucial to the effective functioning of the CSME. “The matters before you are wide ranging in both content and scope. You have a packed agenda before you, although most of the items will not be new to you.”
Some of the matters discussed at the meeting include CSME monitoring and evaluating framework, CSME review of the Common External Tariff (CET), regulatory systems for medicine and action against non-communicable diseases.