Effectively coordinate action to face global challenges – COTED Chair urges Community

A redefinition of the national priorities “to fit CARICOM” so that the Regional integration movement could be more effective was necessary to respond to the challenges it currently faced, the Hon Alva Baptiste, Minister of External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation of Saint Lucia, said on Thursday.
Minister Baptiste, who is chairing the Forty-Second Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) now underway at the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown, Guyana, drew comparisons between the global environment at the establishment of the Community and the scenario that currently existed.
Hon Alva Baptiste, Minister of External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation of Saint LuciaThe current environment, he underscored, was characterised by loss of preferential access to markets, decline of foreign direct investment and official development assistance, and the accumulation of debt, as opposed to the 1970’s when diplomacy and business were conducted in the context of power, alignment was ideological, and ” we were new-born babes being fed by the Mother Country”.
While the Region was not responsible for the global challenges, it had to craft the requisite responses.
The current circumstances, he said, must not cause the Community to face the challenges with dread and confusion, but rather with confidence and conviction, effectively coordinating action.
Despite the weight of the external environment, for us to survive, we must take off; we must defy the gravity of the average, because business as usual belongs to the dim distances of departed time, and it is within our sphere of competence as CARICOM people to respond to those challenges.
We must get the politics right and we must never cannibalize our own in the process of doing that,” he told the delegates at the Opening Ceremony.
The two-day Meeting will focus on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) the treatment of CARICOM nationals travelling through the Region, correspondent banking, trade in goods, Trade in agriculture, and transportation.