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CARICOM Foreign Ministers to Meet with US Trade Representative

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Monday, April 3, 2006 – CARICOM Foreign Ministers are said to be eagerly anticipating a meeting with United States trade representative Ambassador Rob Portman in Washington. The upcoming meeting was born out of last month's CARICOM Foreign Minister's Conference with US Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice. The meeting has been scheduled for the 12th of April.

Minister for External Affairs Senator Honourable Petrus Compton attended the Bahamas meeting which had been called by Dr. Rice in March. He said at the meeting CARICOM had stressed that the global community must approach regional engagements under the terms of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy - CSME - Agreement.

“We made it very clear that for us the CSME is an important part of our development as a region and that countries engaging with the Caribbean has to engage with us within the context of development within the CSME. And as a result of that we are very keen to meet with the US Trade Representative Ambassador Rob Portman to discuss trading issues , trade competitiveness and so forth.”

Minister Compton said the meeting with Dr. Rice covered some five hours of discussions. During that time the US Official pointed to fundamental issues requiring extensive follow ups on the part of CARICOM.  As such Minster Compton says the meeting was never intended to be a one off gathering.

“The US proposed that we should reconfigure a body that was set up in 1991 but never really worked - that's the US CARICOM Trade and Investment Council and we have decided to reconsider that, re-shape it and to breathe life into it, so that that Council could serve as a vehicle to promote and develop trade investment between the Caribbean and the USA.”

Minister Compton said CARICOM Heads of Government meet regularly with US officials on the periphery of several international forums throughout the course of the year.

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