Trade Agreements between Canada and CARICOM

Ambassador Gail Mathurin, Director General in the Office of Trade Negotiations within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), announced that Canada will guarantee access for CARICOM products and services to its market but insists on reciprocity. Canana and CARICOM have just completed the first phase of negotiations for a new trade and development agreement. See excerpts with a link to the full article below:

Traditionally, Caribbean goods have been guaranteed unilateral preferential access to Canada under the more than 20-year-old CARIBCAN agreement, which has assured the region of trade preferences. However, that accord has been deemed to be out of step with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and is due to come to an end in 2011 when the current waiver expires.

With phase two of the negotiations for the accord scheduled to begin in Canada in the second half of 2010, Ambassador Mathurin told reporters here on Friday that Canada had already assured the region that “the level of access that we currently have under CARIBCAN would not be diminished under a trade and development agreement.”

 “What CARICOM is saying to Canada is ‘yes we are prepared to look at some kind of reciprocal arrangement with you’. At the same time, the level of reciprocity must be governed by factors such as the difference in the levels of development between CARICOM and Canada and within CARICOM itself so we don’t see it necessarily as reciprocity that will be mirrored exactly on both sides,” she told reporters. Ambassador Mathurin further envisages, “longer phase out periods” and the exclusion of certain regional goods and services to allow the Caribbean to make the transition to liberalisation. “That’s one form of asymmetry and I argue that that is one element of the development component,” she said, adding that Canada appears “sensitive” of the differences between the two sides.

For full article, see http://www.svgtoday.com/?p=1712

Photo of Gail Mathurin from http://www.unctad.org/Templates/WebFlyer.asp?intItemID=4217&lang=1

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