CARICOM talks with Canada continue


Trade talks between Canada and CARICOM countries are proceeding, which is good news considering the final deadline (last December) was extended until this June. A source has told me they are not going well, but officials seem to be putting a good spin on it. Read a solid article about it here.

The problem seems to be aid, with Canada shying away from giving untied, direct development funds, instead opting for economic development-based funding. This is in line with the rest of most “developed” industrial nations, but Canada is taking an aggressive, unforgiving stance on this, it seems.

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

“The [CARICOM]/Canada trade negotiations are now at a critical stage,” the press release said.

“Should these negotiations falter, [CARICOM] countries would, potentially, face the prospect of trading with Canada on very different terms, including the possibility of having to compete in the Canadian market on WTO global terms,” the release said.

Both sides “know what a deal looks like,” but both are also having trouble finding the political will to close it, and for different reasons, said Phil Rourke, executive director of Ottawa’s Centre for Trade Policy and Law, in a phone interview.

Finding political will to go beyond June is unlikely at this point, he said. “This is basically crunch time.”

And another, addressing the aid issue:

Aid is another sticking point. CARICOM negotiators have asked that Canada include a commitment to providing their members with development funding as part of the deal, something Canada has balked at.

The Canadian government “wants to move beyond” including aid in the deal, Conservative member of Parliament Joe Daniel was quoted as saying in an April 2 press release from the Canada-CARICOM Parliamentary Friendship Group.

The EU-CARIFORUM deal included a commitment for “financial support.” However, a summary of that deal by the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that “[w]hile it is exceptional that CARIFORUM negotiators were able to weave development in core chapters in the EPA Agreement, many of the references do not bind the EU by a time-table for implementation.

“Thus, this leaves a great window of opportunity for the European Council to decide what to support, when and how much to inject into CARIFORUM economies without any legal recourse available for CARIFORUM countries to refute,” the summary said.

Mr. Rourke said he believed the two sides have “figured out a solution” to the issue of development funding in the deal. “You can find language that is acceptable to both sides.”

Canada’s Foreign Affairs webpage states: “Canada is committed to negotiating a modern trade agreement with CARICOM that will take into account differing levels of development, vulnerabilities associated with island states, and trade-related capacity challenges.”

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