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COTED to engage private sector on more continuous basis

CARICOM Georgetown, Guyana, Nov. 12, 2014 -  Engagement with the private sector and Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on a more continuous basis will be facilitated following a meeting of the Trade Ministerial body that concluded Friday.

On the first day of the Thirty-Ninth Meeting of the COTED on Thursday, Ministers with responsibility for Trade continued discussions that began earlier this year on the need for the private sector to be engaged in the decision-making and implementation processes of COTED and the Community.

The private sector is considered a critical partner in the Region’s quest for economic resilience, which is a key element of the Community’s Five-Year Strategic Plan.

The extensive discussions on Thursday were based primarily on a presentation titled `The Role of the Private Sector in Regional Economic Development: A Proposal for Improving Harmony and Cooperation’ made by Consultant, Mr. James Moss-Solomon. The study was commissioned by Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) on behalf of the CARICOM Secretariat.

The Ministers determined that the development of the Caribbean Business Council (CBC) was of paramount importance and support should be provided so that the Council could commence on a firm footing.

However, pending the CBC becoming operational, the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC) will be invited to be the private sector’s representative.

The Meeting also committed to inclusiveness and shared information.

The decisions came against the background of COTED’s re-engagement with the private sector In May this year, with the importance of a structured partnership being underlined.

Heads of Government of CARICOM subsequently engaged Regional business leaders at their meeting in July.

On Thursday, the importance of the private sector was a point of reference in the remarks of all the speakers at the opening ceremony – Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Secretary-General of CARICOM, the Hon. Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Guyana, and the Hon. Arnold J. Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica and Chair of the COTED.

Secretary-General LaRocque pointed out that two complementary elements that were essential to advancing the growth and development agenda of the Region were an efficient and modernized public service, and an effective and empowered private sector. He said the two must work synergistically towards common goals.

“Without prejudice to the overall agenda, I am happy to see movement on the institutional issues of the Regional private sector,” Minister Rodrigues-Birkett said.

According to Minister Nicholson, the role played by the private sector was critical to the Meeting. He commended the work of Caribbean Export.

“I am confident that the decisions that COTED will adopt on this subject will contribute to strengthening the partnership with the private sector and establishing the representation of the sector at the Regional level. The private sector must be a partner in the work of this Council,” he said.

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