Remarks by Chair at opening of 57th COTED Meeting

The 57th Regular Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) got underway Monday, 27 November 2023, at the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana.

Chair of the two-day meeting, the Hon. Rishma N. Kuldipsingh, Minister of Economic Affairs, Entrepreneurship and Technological Innovation of Suriname made remarks at the brief opening.

Please read the remarks of the Chair below:

Thank you, ASG., And thank you colleagues for this opportunity for chairing the Fifty-seventh COTED. 

I would like to thank the SG and ASG of the CARICOM Secretariat for the heartfelt condolences; and proposed support to the ongoing rescue and recovery operations following the tragic mining accident in the district Brokopondo.

I wish to underline the important role assigned to the COTED as the Council that addresses Single Market and trade and economic development issues that are at the forefront of the Community’s agenda.

Our meeting will consider the actionable recommendations of our Senior Officials who met on 7-8 November.

I am confident that all the reports from the Preparatory Meeting of Officials and other documentation have been reviewed and delegations are briefed and ready to work.

We have a range of matters for discussion/decision.

With respect to implementation of the CSME, we will consider several important initiatives which need to be advanced:

  • work towards free movement of all CARICOM nationals within the Community by 31 March 2024, as mandated by the Conference of Heads of Government,
  • the Revised Draft Mergers & Acquisitions policy
  • proposals for rules and regulations to effectively administer public procurement in the Community
  • the harmonisation of laws and administrative practices relating to business entities
  • the programme of support measures for Article 164 industries.

We will have work to do on trade in goods issues that are a mainstay of COTED’s work – including the grant of suspensions of the CET. In this regard, we will also consider:

  • outcomes of recent meetings of the Sectoral Working Groups to review the CET and Rules of Origin, and the way forward for these reviews
  • the work of the Open-ended Working Group on Analysis of Selected Industrial Products in Support of Implementation of the CSME
  • the initiative of another Member State to transition to an electronic certificate of origin system
  • the status of Member States’ implementation of the CARICOM Harmonised Customs Bill and Regulations, as well as the CET based on HS2022

We will consider the submission of a Member State on issues of compliance and hope to see further positive movements reflected in reports we receive on specific matters.

On external trade relations, we will consider work to advance the CARICOM-Colombia negotiations, outcomes of the Ninth Meeting of the CARICOM-US Trade and Investment Council, as well as preparations for the Thirteenth WTO Ministerial Conference and implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.

On standards, we will consider approval of CROSQ’s operating budget for the upcoming financial year.

We will also consider several matters pertaining to the CCC, namely, its 2024 work programme and proposed budget, its second strategic plan and a study concerning data protection and privacy.

Additionally, there are a number of matters before us for information/update:

  • the Secretary-General’s grant of CET suspensions and safeguards
  • the use of specifications in applications for CET suspensions and safeguard certificates
  • the work underway on the regional services strategies and implementation plans, local content, industrial policy and macroeconomic policy coordination
  • efforts towards a framework for SIDS in UNCTAD and a Memorandum of Understanding between the UNCTAD and CARICOM Secretariats
  • the hosting by Barbados of the Global Supply Chain Forum
  • a Member State’s negotiation of a partial scope agreement with a third country
  • the convening of the first meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the COTED Rules of Procedure
  • Caribbean-EU development cooperation
  • implementation of the monitoring mechanism for sugar

On process:

I intend to keep our deliberations focused – agenda item by agenda item.

I encourage brief and focused interventions directed to the issues under consideration.

Above all colleagues, let us be ready to take bold and decisive action on matters that require clear direction from us as Ministers.


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