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Lobby as a Regional Bloc, the Caribbean is told

For Release Upon Receipt - Thursday, February 28, 2019

Kiyuti and Billie-2-28-2019.jpgIn a changing geopolitical environment, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has again been encouraged to lobby as a regional bloc for greater effectiveness.

This was the advice from Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, as he delivered a public lecture at The University of the West Indies Cave Hill, on the topic: The Role of UNCTAD in Trade and Development in the Caribbean on Saturday.

Dr. Kituyi said the dramatic shifts occurring internationally – partially as a result of identity politics and the fear of uncontrolled migration – have influenced how countries are fashioning policies.

“The distrust of multilateralism and the declining appetite for inclusive solution-making has been growing before [US President] Donald Trump arrived on the stage. He may have the boldest way of saying it but some of us have the sense that after Trump, America will still be taking baby steps towards multilateralism, particularly on trade. It can do so on other things where it knows its interests are better served by the collective.”

He, therefore, anticipated far more focus on intellectual property rights and intangibles, such as pre-production, logistics management and surveys on consumer satisfaction with products and cell services, rather than merely focussing on manufacturing products.

Stating that this requires a new way of thinking, the Secretary-General noted that the main players are also moving away increasingly from the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and towards bilateral and plurilateral negotiations.

“There’s no way to resolve all components the WTO needs to reform unless there is sufficient will,” Kituyi added. “We are too small to negotiate market access as individual entities. The Europeans are even having a declining appetite for the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. I think there will be deliberate efforts to separate regions… [and] … some key players [may] want to retire the whole notion of ACP.”

The UNCTAD representative said too that rapid growth in the area of technology cannot be wished away, and recommended that states adjust their thinking.

“In spite of the challenges and the critical importance of our traditional economies, we must quickly look at how we can bridge the gap . . . on the digital front of innovation,” he said.

“If the Caribbean is talking about regional integration, you cannot avoid the milieu of negotiations on cross-border digital trade, [such as the creation of] a common payment platform for electronic transactions across borders.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Dame Billie Miller,Ambassador at Large and Plenipotentiary chats withDr. Mukhisa Kituyi after the lecture


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