MINISTER ALVA BAPTISTE PROVIDES STERLING LEADERSHIP AS CHAIRMAN OF COTED

Promises To Address Vexing Issue of Non-Compliance At A Special Meeting of COTED In February 2023

Saint Lucia’s Minister responsible for International Trade, who currently chairs the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), the Honorable Alva Romanus Baptiste, returned to Saint Lucia from
Georgetown, Guyana, on Wednesday, 30th November 2022, after masterfully presiding over the 55th Session of the Council, conducted from the 28th – 29th November, 2022. The COTED is a critical organ of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), charged with the responsibility of promoting trade and economic development of CARICOM as well as overseeing the operations of the Single Market and Economy and comprises Ministers designated by the member states.

Minister Baptiste presided over important matters such as the longstanding issue of access by honey producers within the Caribbean Community to the Trinidad and Tobago honey market. Chairman Baptiste was able to get solid commitments from Trinidad and Tobago to work towards the complete removal of the current impediments to regional trade in the prized commodity.

The chair was also able to bring finality to requests by various member states for suspension of the Common External Tariff on specified commodities, to ensure reliable supplies of vital production inputs that were not thought to be readily available in the region in the quantities that were being demanded or conversely to facilitate regional supply of these commodities, as diverse as tumeric powder on one hand and chlorine gas on the other, which the Community had been deemed capable of producing in the required quantities. commodities, as diverse as tumeric powder on one hand and chlorine gas on the other, which the Community had been deemed capable of producing in the required quantities.

Additionally, Minister Baptiste expressed a strong resolve to address the vexing perennial issue of non compliance by member states in implementing the Common External Tariff as well as suspensions to the
regime granted by the Council. Consequently, he has summoned a special meeting of the Council on Trade and Economic Development for mid February 2023 to look into strengthening the capacity of this august body to deal with the vexing issue of non-compliance which he says threatens to erode the very foundation on which the construct of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy sits.

Skillfully chaired by Minister Baptiste, the meeting ended well ahead of schedule with sessions that were lively but focused, conducted as they were against the broader backdrop of the critical role that trade, both regional and international, plays in the economic development of nations

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