Minister of State for Finance the Hon. Zhivargo Laing addresses members of the media during a press conference held Wednesday, March 5, 2008 at the Sheraton Cable Beach Resort. Mr Laing attended the Twenty-Fourth Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED). (Photo/Tim Aylen)
Nassau, The Bahamas – Twelve of the fifteen members of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community will be in Nassau , The Bahamas for the 19th Inter-Sessional Meeting scheduled to begin on Friday 7 March.
All the Members States will be represented along with two of the five Associate Members when the two-day Meeting gets underway at the Sheraton Cable Beach Resort. Not scheduled to attend are the President of Haiti, the Chief Minister of Montserrat and the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines . Also attending will be the Commonwealth Secretary-General His Excellency the Right Honourable Donald McKinnon, who will be bidding farewell to the leaders as his term expires later this year, and the Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) His Excellency Dr Jacques Diouf.
The Inter-Sessional is the last in a series of meetings which began last Thursday 28 February in Jamaica with the Reflections Group on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) concluded with the European Union (EU) and continued in Nassau from Monday with Meetings of the Councils for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) and Finance and Planning (COFAP).
Among the items high on the agenda of the Inter-Sessional Meeting are the Establishment of the Single Economy and in particular the start of operations of the CARICOM Development Fund, including the Regional Development Agency, on which the Leaders will receive recommendations from the COFAP following Thursday’s meeting of that council. Other matters relative to the operations of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy which will engage the attention of the Heads of Government include the Free Movement of Skills and hassle free travel.
The Leaders will receive recommendations from COTED on Poverty and the Cost of Living including the list of food items upon which the Common External Tariff could be adjusted in order to have an effect on prices in the Region. Preparations for the proposed Agriculture Investment Forum to be held later this year will also be considered.
Crime and Security will feature prominently in the discussions including a review of the Security Legacy of the Cricket World Cup 2007 which was staged in the Caribbean .
Internationally, developments related to the conduct of External Trade Negotiations, with emphasis on the implementation of the EPA, is on the agenda with the results of the meeting of the Reflections Group and the COTED informing the discussion. The direction of future negotiations will be looked at in the light of the experiences with the EPA.
A draft programme for this year’s follow-up to the 2007 Conference on the Caribbean held in Washington DC USA , will be presented to the Heads of Government. The proposed venue for the follow-up Conference is New York .