In his address at the opening ceremony for the seminar which is being held at the St. Kitts Marriot, the Minister told the gathering that trade matters to all countries, regions and peoples.
“It impacts us irrespective of our size, status or position. Both the Ministerial Group on Small States (MGSS) and the Commonwealth Consultative Group on Small States (CGSS), have identified three areas of particular importance to small states of which we in the Caribbean are the quintessential ones. These are: sustainable development; the international trading system, and the security of small states,” Dr. Harris outlined.
Focusing on the second element, namely, the international trading system, the Minister said it will be remiss for developing countries not to see all three elements as interrelated and interdependent.
“There can be no sustainable development for us if we continue to participate on inequitable and egregious terms in the international trading system. Our security too will be challenged unless we are appropriately integrated in the global economic system. Trade whether in goods or services forms an integral part of the development strategy of the Caribbean. Decisions on trade have implications for our development”
“We in the Caribbean continue to be involved in WTO matters including the DOHA Round. We are discussing a free trade arrangement with Canada and we have a deep interest in trade with Brazil. The EPA implementation phase will greet us in the New Year and we must be ready,” Harris stated.
The Trade Minister went on to explain that the, “Caribbean countries are engaged in the international trading system. We need to master the skills, competencies and resources to trade and participate in the Multi-lateral System on a more beneficial basis. Only then can international trade become the vehicle that will promote our economic growth, alleviate poverty and drive sustainable development.”
According to Harris, trade policy formulation, implementation and management are largely the remit of the government.
“In the end it is businesses, not government, that trade. It is our farmers, manufacturers and service providers who gain most from trade arrangements. Sometimes they are net losers too. Whether we are producers or consumers, trade arrangements impact us,” he added.
Countries represented at the seminar are Belize, Antigua, Barbados, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Guyana.