CARICOM, US sign deal to strengthen trade and investment ties
Georgetown, GINA, May 28, 2013
The Secretary General of CARICOM and the Office of the United States (US) Trade Representative have been designated the main points for communication on the new Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between the region and the US Government.
The pact that seeks to promote the long-term development, expansion, and diversification of trade in products and services between the two territories followed an important meeting between CARICOM Heads of State and US Vice President Joe Biden in Trinidad and Tobago today.
Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar joined his colleague Heads of State in CARICOM for the occasion.
US Vice-President Joe Biden, right, gestures as he speaks with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, shortly after his arrival in T&T for a short visit. PHOTO ABRABiden
The new deal supersedes a 1991 US/CARICOM Council on Trade and Investment and also addresses relevant issues such as the protection of intellectual property rights, workers, rights and the environment.
The officials agreed to the establishment of a US CARICOM Council on Trade and Investment that will monitor the deal when implemented, identify opportunities, remove impediments and consult with the private sector on the possibilities of expanding linkages.
The council will comprise a nominee of the CARICOM Chair and the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).
Among its functions will be to address concerns raised by any party about the agreement within a specified timeframe, and be afforded the opportunity to consider a matter before taking actions that could adversely affect trade or investment interests of the other party.
A copy of the agreement made public states clearly that it shall be without prejudice to the laws or to the rights and obligations under any other agreement of either the US or the CARICOM Member States.
Withdrawal from the deal by one party must be done with written notice to the other party and will take effect on the date the parties agree.
A release from the CARICOM Secretariat stated that the agreement establishes the framework for the discussion of issues to address the digital divide through the promotion of innovation and the dissemination of technology for increasing competitiveness, job creation, economic development and trade, as well as for discussing US trade and investment-related legislation which have extra-territorial impact.
It added that an Initial Action Agenda, which is annexed to the Agreement, sets out areas for attention which include matters relating to the WTO; bilateral trade and investment arrangements; cooperation in regional and multilateral areas; support for regional integration; cooperation to promote and respect fundamental labor rights, social protection, and workforce development; and the facilitation of trade and investment opportunities.
TIFA was signed today in Port-of-Spain, in the presence of CARICOM Chairman, His Excellency Michel Martelly, the President of Haiti and Vice President Biden, following a meeting between CARICOM Heads of Government and the US Vice President at the Diplomatic Centre.