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COTED convenes Thursday : CSME, Correspondent Banking in focus

Matters that impact on the economic health of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) come under focus in Georgetown, Guyana, when the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) meets on Thursday and Friday.

Regional ministers with responsibility for trade will hold discussions on a range of matters including the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), and treatment of nationals travelling in the region.

There will also be an assessment of the progress that has been made with respect to a draft policy on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME). The MSME sector is considered a critical pillar of economic development of CARICOM as it contributes more than 70 percent of GDP in some member states and often employs more people than large businesses across the region.

Ministers will also discuss the threat to the region’s correspondent banking relations (CBR). A correspondent bank is a financial institution that provides services on behalf of another financial institution. Correspondent banks are used by banks in one country to conduct business in a foreign country.

Heads of government at their intersessional meeting in February established a high level advocacy group, led by Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne. Browne’s mission is to represent the Community’s interest at all levels, including with the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and the United States Congress to tackle the threat of the removal of CBR between foreign banks and Regional banks.

He recently headed a delegation to Jamaica for consultations titled Caribbean Public Private Dialogue on CBR.

Deliberations will also be held on matters related to the Community’s External Economic and Trade Relations, including developments in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and the finalisation of negotiations for the expansion of preferential treatment under the CARICOM-Cuba Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement.

Transportation, and trade in agriculture are among the items to be discussed.

On Friday afternoon, a special Meeting of the COTED on trade and energy will be held. That meeting will consider, among other matters, intra-regional trade in petroleum products; regional cooperation on energy; and the selection of an independent representative on the steering committee of the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE).

Technical officers met at the CARICOM Secretariat on Monday and Tuesday to prepare for the ministerial session.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

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