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Rum issue dominates regional trade talks
Trade Minister Vasant Bharath chaired the 42nd Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (External Trade) in Port of Spain this week. Agenda items included the pressing rum issue where discussions were held on the threats posed to the Caribbean industry as a result of subsidies offered by the United States to rum producers in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Several options were explored, including those within the WTO system.
Discussions concluded with a commitment from member countries to return with a final position to the Caricom Secretariat within three weeks following individual country consultation.
The other agenda item was the slow progress of negotiations with Canada for a new trade and development agreement. This agreement is needed to ensure continued preferential market access by regional producers and service providers beyond December 2013. This is important in light of the pending expiration date of the current WTO waiver for the Caricom-Canada Agreement. It was agreed that a letter will be send to the Canadian Minister of International Trade formally requesting a meeting with the Caricom Ministers of Trade.
Participating in the meeting were Antigua and Barbuda; Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Dominica; Jamaica, Grenada, Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis; Suriname; and T&T.
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