RNM Update, Special Issue, September 2005

Original Publication Date: 
8 September, 2005

Prepared by the Communications Division of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM), this electronic newsletter focuses on the RNM, trade negotiation issues within its mandate and related activities.


Special Issue: WTO, FTAA, EPA NEGOTIATIONS - STATUS AND PROSPECTS

- NEWS BRIEFS
- UPCOMING EVENTS

Prospects for World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round and Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) negotiations are diminished. As regards the former, negotiations hit a major stumbling block two months ago with the unravelling of an interim agreement, casting doubt on a successful Ministerial meeting this December. In the case of the latter, negotiations remain stalled, with little willingness on the part of certain countries to re-start the process, despite a recent proposal by CARICOM to that end. For their part, Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations between CARIFORUM and the EU are poised to reach a milestone later this month, with a Joint Ministerial that will usher in the third phase of negotiations. The status and prospects of these negotiations are put into focus in this Special Issue of RNM UPDATE.

WTO Doha Round Talks, A Race Against Time

"The Doha Development Round is teetering on the brink of collapse. Below the precipice lie reminders of debacles at Seattle and Cancun - stark reminders of failed talks at the WTO." These were the sentiments of CARICOM's Ministerial Spokesperson for the WTO and Guyana's Trade Minister Hon. Clement Rohee, who this week gave an assessment of the state of affairs in global trade talks.

WTO negotiations face a daunting challenge, ahead of a key Ministerial at year's end. Momentum from last year's so-called July Package was all but stymied two months ago, when negotiators came up short in clinching an interim agreement for WTO Doha Round talks, referred to as "First Approximations". It was hoped that at the July General Council an "approximation" of the text for the interim agreement would be arrived at, to be eventually considered by the WTO Ministerial Conference scheduled to take place in Hong Kong this December. It has been widely accepted that prospects for Doha Round negotiations would be judged by the degree of progress reached by the end of July, and so the "approximations" exercise having unravelled as it did was sobering.

Intended to be the basis for advancing embattled multilateral trade talks ahead of the looming December WTO Ministerial, the fact that the "First Approximations" exercise failed has cast doubt on the outcome of the WTO Ministerial meeting. This development has increased calls to find ways to unblock the trade talks which have foundered, notably on issues such as Agriculture. Shortly following the July General Council, there was a reaffirmation that a 'Mini-Ministerial' meeting for October was needed, having been originally mooted by a group of select Trade Ministers who met in Dalian, China in the lead up to the General Council.

The new WTO Director General, Pascal Lamy, assumed office September 1, just fourteen weeks before the WTO Ministerial at year's end. In welcoming Lamy taking up the reins of the WTO, Director General of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM) Ambassador Dr. Richard Bernal paid tribute to Lamy's predecessor, Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, now the Secretary-General of the Geneva-based United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Ambassador Bernal emphasized, however, that with Lamy assuming his post, there is the expectation that the process will be re-started with vigour, following the August Summer break. The RNM head noted he was pleased that Lamy had already begun consultations, including with the chairs of the various negotiating groups and Ambassadors, considering that in the post-July "approximations" period there remains a mood of urgency to re-start the process. "There is a greater sense of unease at this stage in negotiations, primarily because the Doha Round has fallen short thus far in sufficiently advancing development in key areas," Dr. Bernal noted; adding "concerns of developing countries have not been taken into account, to the extent that we had expected, nor has the approach to the incorporation of developmental issues been balanced." In this context, many developing countries have raised concerns that development issues are still being ignored, calling for a development audit of the negotiations.

There is, however, cause for optimism coming out of the Summer break, as the new WTO Director General appears intent on catalyzing the process, which remained dormant through August. A Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) meeting is slated for September 14, during which Lamy is expected to unveil the way forward procedurally, leading up to the Hong Kong Ministerial. Importantly, in the contentious area of Agriculture, new Agriculture negotiations Chair Crawford Falconer, the New Zealand WTO Ambassador, is expected to outline the status of farm talks at the September 14 TNC. A Committee on Agriculture-Special Session will precede the TNC, September 13. Falconer's non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) negotiating group counterpart, Stefan Hakur Johannesson, is set to convene a negotiating session from September 21 to 23. A key General Council meeting follows, scheduled for October 19 and 20.

There is a recognition that it is critical that momentum be built up from September, as agreement on modalities at Hong Kong is thought to be essential for a successful outcome of the Doha Development Agenda by the end of 2006. There is likely to be increased pressure for completion of the Round by the end of 2006, given that the expiration of US Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is set for mid-2007. TPA, the US Administration's negotiating mandate from Congress, places a firm deadline on the completion of the Doha Round, a recent issue of SELA Antenna noted. The newsletter further stated that, "considering the fact that the current grant of TPA was approved by a one-vote margin in the House of Representatives in 2001, it cannot be taken for granted that Congress will make another such grant two years from now."

With December just a few weeks away, there are concerns over whether sufficient momentum can be spurred in troubled global trade talks.
Negotiations have been stuck primarily over Agriculture and NAMA - especially over tariff-cutting formulas for agricultural and industrial goods, but also reduction commitments in trade-distorting domestic support in respect of Agriculture. As it has for some time now, movement in NAMA and other contentious areas hinges on progress in Agriculture. Ultimately, swift consensus is needed in Agriculture negotiations in the coming weeks.

As Minister Rohee has underscored, "the sticky un-resolved issues continue to be market access, a formula for tariff cuts in both farm and industrial goods, as well as ensuring greater disciplines in the level of domestic supports (subsidies). The key areas of contention are: i) agreeing to a tariff reduction formula with S&D provisions for farm products; ii) settling a tariff reduction formula with S&D provisions for industrial goods; iii) development of a critical mass in services and rules; and, iv) an acceptable reflection of the development dimension of the Doha mandate."

For their part, Caribbean countries want a Doha Development Agenda that is balanced, and that seeks to advance their core development mandate.
In this vein, the Region is particularly keen on seeing adequate provisions for preferences and special tariff reduction treatment for developing countries, depending on their capacity to contribute to the Round, and for Small Economies. The issue of preferential market access remains critically important for CARICOM. Delivering an address under the theme: Strengthening Regionalism: A Catalyst for the survival of Small States, at the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) Headquarters on August 30, Jamaican Prime Minister Hon. P.J. Patterson emphasized that "Jamaica and its CARICOM partners, while mindful of the demands of the current trading environment, remain resolute in our position, that measures must be found to mitigate the negative impact of the loss of preferential market access."

CARICOM is of the view that the Hong Kong Ministerial can be successful only if the concerns of the developing countries are taken on board.
Minister Rohee has cautioned that, "unfortunately, to date this is not the case. For example, out of the sixty remaining agreements - specific proposals on Special and Differential Treatment (S&DT) from the eighty-eight that went to Cancun, only 5 proposals have been given priority and discussed, but not yet agreed." He noted further that, "we are yet to see how the S&DT provisions would be reflected in the Agricultural tariff reduction formula, Special Products, Special Safeguard Measures, long standing preferences, preference erosion as well as in the negotiations on a tariff reduction formula for industrial goods and tariff revenue dependency - all areas of critical interest to CARICOM countries. Thus far, the negotiations in these areas have been disappointing to say the least."

What happens over the next two months in Geneva-based negotiations will be a litmus test for the Hong Kong Ministerial's success. Given the divergences that still plague the process, it is anticipated that in addition to the 'Mini-Ministerial' planned for October, others will likely be convened in advance of the Ministerial.

The next few weeks will be a critical period for resolving a number of contentious issues. Without swift consensus on respective troubled areas, Agriculture included, there could be another Cancun-type meeting this December, some WTO-watchers have warned.

Given the level of discord plaguing the process, Minister Rohee has concluded "there is a need for a re-think on the objectives for Hong Kong and what is achievable there."

CARICOM is prepared to play a constructive role in moving the process forward, so that a balanced and development-oriented outcome of the Hong Kong Meeting can be achieved.

The FTAA, Overcoming the Deadlock

CARICOM formally wrote to FTAA Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) Co-Chairs September 1, calling on them to urgently convene a meeting of the TNC, before the IV Summit of the Americas to be held November 4 to 5, 2005 in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

A clear signal must come from the highest political levels in the hemisphere of continuing commitment to the objectives of the FTAA, and its successful conclusion. In this vein, with a view to re-starting the FTAA negotiating process that has been at an impasse for over eighteen months now, CARICOM strongly believes that the principal purpose of the TNC meeting should be to develop consensus text on the FTAA for the Mar del Plata Declaration. CARICOM had originally mooted such a TNC at an informal meeting of FTAA Senior Trade Officials in Puebla, Mexico, August 25, that focused on future funding arrangements for the FTAA negotiations. The idea of a TNC was reaffirmed in the letter sent by CARICOM to TNC Co-Chairs last Thursday.

The following elements were suggested, that could form the basis of the FTAA text of the Summit Declaration:

(i) Reaffirmation of support for the objectives of the FTAA and the successful conclusion of the negotiations;
(ii) Language linking the FTAA to the main Summit theme - employment generation; and,
(iii) A specific mandate to Ministers to restart the negotiations, and to develop a timetable and roadmap for the successful conclusion of the negotiations.

Canada and Mexico have also written the TNC Co-Chairs, calling for the Co-Chairs to convene a meeting of all FTAA participants, at the Vice-Ministerial level, by mid-October 2005. It was emphasized that such a meeting would develop drafting language on the FTAA for the Summit Declaration.

The FTAA continues to be an important and central element of the Summit process and Plan of Action. At the Puebla meeting week before last, it was proposed that individual countries request the TNC Co-Chairs convene a TNC before the end of October, to provide input for the Mar del Plata Summit Declaration. CARICOM took the lead in proposing that the TNC Co-Chairs should be called upon to convene a one and a half or two-day TNC meeting before the Mar de Plata Summit with a clearly defined outcome - to develop consensus text on the FTAA for the Summit Declaration. The Mexican Government has offered Puebla City as a possible venue for a Vice Ministerial meeting.

Referring to the September 1 letter sent on behalf of CARICOM to the FTAA TNC Co-Chairs, Ambassador Bernal noted "CARICOM remains deeply concerned about the protracted impasse in FTAA negotiations;"
emphasizing that it is anticipated that if the proposed TNC is successful, a Ministerial meeting would have to be convened early in 2006.

CARICOM is of the view that the FTAA process belongs equally to all of the 34 sovereign governments who have invested considerable resources in the process, and therefore CARICOM, as with all Members, have a responsibility to help the Co-Chairs find a way to ensure that almost five years of investment does not prove wasted.

Negotiations for the FTAA, a proposed 34-country hemispheric free trade agreement, broke down in February 2004 following failure by Senior Trade Officials to agree on the scope of obligations to be assumed by all FTAA countries, as well as procedures for the conduct of plurilateral negotiations.

Attempts by the US and Brazilian TNC Co-Chairs to revive the talks have been unsuccessful. At the outset of 2005, both Co-Chairs signalled that they were actively exploring ways to re-launch the embattled talks.
However, the Co-Chairs have not met in months, initially having cited scheduling problems.

Save for repeated statements from certain countries, including CARICOM countries, reaffirming a commitment to the FTAA, there has been a hiatus in the process, with no clear guidance on the way forward.

In as much as the August 25 Puebla meeting presented an important opportunity for interchange, it took place at a time when circumstances are far from propitious for a re-launch of negotiations.

The FTAA faces several competing agendas both in the hemisphere and globally, which diminish its political and economic priority for several countries in the hemisphere.

At the hemispheric level, the US has pushed ahead with separate, faster bilateral trade agreements with several countries involved in the FTAA process. This has prompted a re-evaluation of strategic trade options by various countries in Latin/Central America, as regards utilizing the FTAA as a springboard for securing access to the US market.

MERCOSUR, in particular Brazil, is seeking to consolidate its own sub-regional integration process, and has embarked on an aggressive campaign to extend and consolidate trade relations and other strategic alliances within and outside of Latin America.

Waning support for the FTAA has also been evident over the last several months, notwithstanding recent policy pronouncements by the principal players reaffirming continued commitment to the goals of the FTAA.
Certain countries have openly suggested that WTO Doha Round negotiations remain their fundamental and main priority, and that the Americas-wide trade pact is "off the agenda". Recent changes announced at the US Trade Representative's office, in particular the reassignment of deputy USTR Ambassador Peter Allgeier, the current US TNC Co-Chair in FTAA talks, to the WTO will likely also impact on the FTAA process.

The successful re-launch of FTAA negotiations requires a pragmatic re-dimensioning of the scope of the trade agreement under negotiation.
Consensus on a simpler, more efficacious structure of negotiations is needed, if the completion of the FTAA is not to be jeopardized. This can be achieved by defining the scope of the FTAA as the core issues, which had previously commanded consensus. The subjects, issues and extent of liberalization not in the consensus could be added to the accord, in a subsequent round of negotiations.

A unified structure would improve chances for a re-launch of the process of hemispheric trade negotiations; and by removing the most contentious elements from the negotiations thereby enhancing the feasibility of completing them.

CARIFORUM and EC Ministerial to mark new Phase of EPA Negotiations

CARIFORUM Ministers and EC officials will meet in St. Lucia at the end of the month, to review progress in Phase II, provide political instructions on the future orientation and consider issues germane to Phase III. This Second CARIFORUM-EC Ministerial will also serve as a forum for an exchange of views on other topical trade issues, such as a review of global trade talks in the lead up to the Sixth WTO Ministerial, and the respective reforms of the EC sugar and banana regimes.

As regards the number and content of technical interface, Phase II of CARIFORUM-EU negotiations for an EPA have progressed in a manner consistent with the Joint Plan and Schedule. The major thrust of the current phase of negotiations has been two-fold, namely: (a) understanding the nature of the respective economic spaces that will assume EPA commitments on January 1, 2008; and, (b) identifying CARIFORUM regional integration priorities to benefit from EC support.

Phase II of CARIFORUM-EU negotiations have proceeded parallel to an intra-CARIFORUM process, aimed at strengthening the regional integration process. This involves two aspects, namely: (a) the completion of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME); and, (b) the integration of CARICOM and the Dominican Republic, through the framework of the CARICOM-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement.

CARIFORUM-EU Principal Negotiators will convene in a fourth session September 28, in order to complete preparations for the Ministerial meeting. CARIFORUM technical preparations will be advanced via the convening of the first meeting of the EPA College of Negotiators. This consultative body assembles all of the Region's Principal, Lead and Alternative Negotiators on EPA, buttressed with technical experts from the CARICOM and Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Secretariats and the RNM.

In all meetings at the level of Principal Negotiators and technical experts, CARIFORUM has consistently underscored the need for an EPA to become a tool for development. Consistent with the core provisions of the Cotonou Agreement, the new CARIFORUM-EU trading arrangements should aim at pursuing sustainable development and achieving poverty reduction.

Furthermore, in order to secure its effective implementation, an EPA needs to be complemented by specific support measures primarily aimed at strengthening CARIFORUM regional integration and mitigating the adjustment resulting from any degree of trade liberalisation and preference erosion. CARIFORUM has also noted that special and differential treatment is an integral part of this process.

CARIFORUM has reaffirmed the principle of variable geometry in EPA negotiations, in light of the three streams of regional integration processes in existence within the region, namely, the OECS - a customs union with its common currency and common judiciary; the Caribbean Community which is completing the establishment of a Single Market and Economy; and the CARICOM-Dominican Republic FTA. All three CARIFORUM integration processes are being pursued at varied pace and depth, hence differentiation among CARIFORUM members is one of the essential planks of the Region's approach to regional integration.

The third phase of EPA negotiations - structuring and consolidating of EPA negotiations (September 2005 to December 2006) - has as its objective the consolidation of discussions and channelling the points of common understanding into elements of a draft EPA. The fourth and final Phase (January 2007 to December 2007) will concentrate on consolidating the results of the negotiations, ultimately completing EPA negotiations by the end of 2007.

NEWS BRIEFS

Dominican Republic Lawmakers Overwhelmingly Approve DR-CAFTA

On September 6, the Dominican Republic Chamber of Deputies (the lower house the legislature) ratified the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), that comprises the United States, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. In Tuesday's vote, DR-CAFTA passed with a wide margin in its favour, 118-4.

The agreement will now be passed on to President Leonel Fernandez, who has indicated he will sign it. The Dominican Senate had previously passed the accord August 26 this year, following a 27-2 vote.

The Dominican government is under pressure to approve compensatory measures for the private sector, before the accord is implemented January 1, 2006 (for background, see RNM UPDATE 0512, August 1, 2005 - US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PASSES DR-CAFTA). The matter is still under consideration by the government.

With the passage of DR-CAFTA in the Dominican Republic, that country joins the ranks of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and the United States in approving the trade pact. Costa Rica and Nicaragua are the only nations that have not yet ratified the accord.

Arbitrator Appointed in Sugar Dispute

On August 30, 2005, Australia, Brazil, the European Communities and Thailand requested Mr. A.V. Ganesan, Member of the Appellate Body, to act as arbitrator pursuant to Article 21.3(c) of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes in the matter European Communities - Export Subsidies on Sugar (WT/DS265; WT/DS266; WT/DS283). On September 5, 2005, Mr. Ganesan informed Australia, Brazil, the European Communities and Thailand in writing that he accepts the appointment to serve as arbitrator.

> Summary of the case DS265:
http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/cases_e/ds265_e.htm

EU lowers Banana Import Duty

A meeting of the 133 Committee took place last week, with bananas on its agenda. That group is slated to meet again September 9.

It has been reported that the import duty the European Union is to propose for third country banana imports under its Tariff Only system from 2006 would be 199 euros per tonne. Last month, a ruling was handed down by WTO Arbitrators against the EC's proposed tariff of 230 euro per tonne on third country banana imports under its Tariff Only system, noting further that it would not maintain total market access for MFN banana suppliers - see RNM News Release 1205, WTO BANANA RULING DEVASTATING BLOW TO VULNERABLE CARIBBEAN ECONOMIES.

PetroCaribe Summit showcases need to Enhance Energy Security

The three-day Second PetroCaribe Summit of Heads of States and Government of the Caribbean and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela came to a close September 6, in Montego Bay, Jamaica, with the signing of a Summit Communique (available at http://www.jis.gov.jm/special_sections/summit/COMMUNIQUE2.pdf). In his opening statement at the Summit, Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson lauded the PetroCaribe Initiative, noting that the agreement "represents an important vehicle for enhancing energy security, promoting capacity building and accelerating the development agenda at the national, as well as the regional levels."

The meeting was attended by presidents and ministers of government from 17 countries, including Cuba, which signed the Constituent Agreement for the PetroCaribe Agreement June 29, in Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela. In a bid to finalize the establishment of the institutional framework for the operation of the agreement, including the establishment of a Secretariat, as well as a proposed energy research facility for the Caribbean, regional oil ministers met September 5. Venezuelan Minister of Energy Rafael Ramirez Carreno and Jamaica's Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology Phillip Paulwell were elected president and vice president, respectively, of PetroCaribe's governing council. Both ministers will serve a one-year term. Minister Paulwell has hailed the recently held Summit, noting that the achievements made over the three day meeting would assist the Region "on the long road toward energy cooperation and integration for socio-economic development."

Through PetroCaribe, Venezuela will sell participating Caribbean countries oil under preferential payment conditions, meaning that instead of paying the 'full amount' to Venezuela, up front, only a part is remitted immediately in cash. PetroCaribe agreement beneficiaries will not be receiving oil at concessionary prices, as within the framework of OPEC, Venezuela is not permitted to sell below world market price. "The rest of the payment is convertible by our Governments as a concessionary loan at one per cent over 25 years," Prime Minister Patterson explained, describing the immediate substantial benefits to be derived as: a) averting a severe reduction of foreign exchange reserves, thereby easing the pressure for currency devaluation, which would trigger inflation; b) the accumulation of loan funds at concessionary rates, otherwise unavailable from International Lending Agencies or Capital Markets; and, c) the ability to repay portions of the loan by way of goods and services, including commodities such as sugar, bananas and rice. In addition, Venezuela will facilitate in exploration, refining and distribution of oil, while supporting the development of renewable energy sources.

The agreement comes at a time of rising oil prices, which pose a serious threat to the Region's small vulnerable economies. PetroCaribe is an initiative of Venezuela, and was launched at a meeting of regional energy ministers in July 2004. The PetroCaribe Energy Cooperation Agreement, with Venezuela, replaces the San Jose Accord and now the Caracas Energy Agreement of 2001. The concept behind PetroCaribe dates back to 2003, when the Government of Venezuela first presented the PetroCaribe concept to the member states of the Latin American Energy Organisation (OLADE) during a meeting in Quito, Ecuador. The proposal was well received. It was further embraced by the G15 Leaders who met in Caracas last year to focus on South/South Energy Cooperation. In July 2004, Venezuela convened a meeting in Caracas where the concept was shared with Energy Ministers of the Caribbean.

FOCAL gives CARICOM nod as Summit host

In a recent editorial, the Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL), an Ottawa-based policy institute, advocated CARICOM consider hosting the follow-up summit to the IV Summit of the Americas to be held November 4 to 5, 2005 in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Noting that at year's-end CARICOM countries would formally constitute themselves into the CSME, FOCAL underscored that the scheduled 2009 Summit of the Americas could be an opportunity to show-case this regional initiative to the hemisphere. Citing its "democratic, well-functioning and stable institutions," FOCAL suggested that Barbados, as it had the 2002 Organization of American States General Assembly, could be the host country for the Summit. "CARICOM's time may have come to play a more central role in hemispheric affairs," FOCAL concluded. (The focal editorial can be downloaded from the RNM website)

RNM Convenes Briefing for Dominican, Antiguan Private Sector

"An IDB/MIF funded project directed at strengthening the role of the Region's private sector in CARICOM's external trade negotiations will provide impetus for future dialogue between the private sector of the Commonwealth of Dominica and Antigua & Barbuda with the RNM." This was the sentiment expressed by Ambassador Bernal, in reference to briefing sessions coordinated by the RNM - which is overseeing the implementation of the IDB/MIF funded project - that took place in Roseau, Dominica, September 5 and St. John's, Antigua, September 7, respectively.

In the opening session of the one-day seminar in Dominica, opening remarks were delivered by President of the Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce Mr. Karl Nassief; Junior Minister in the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Private Sector Relations Hon. Lorren Banis-Roberts, and the feature address was delivered by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Labour Hon. Charles Savarin. Their remarks centred on the importance of the private sector inserting perspectives and positions more effectively in the Region's trade negotiations.

In the opening session of the one-day seminar in Antigua, the feature address was delivered by the President of the Antigua & Barbuda Chamber of Commerce Mr. Clarvis Joseph, who underscored the importance of the private sector taking an active role in informing on-going trade negotiations, especially in the area of services trade.

A range of private sector representatives and business executives participated in both sessions, which featured presentations by RNM technical specialists on the status of CARICOM's external trade negotiations and the integration of OECS inputs into the regional negotiating process. Particular attention was given to market access in goods and services in WTO and EPA negotiations, with focus also on the sectoral areas of Agriculture, Services and Investment.

The expectation is the briefing sessions will open the way to better identifying the specific concerns and interests of the Dominican and Antiguan business community in commercial negotiations. The interchange enabled a further sensitization of entrepreneurs on negotiating issues, so that they may better inform the positions the RNM brings to the negotiating table.

"Given the private sector's role in external trade negotiations, regular interchange with this group of stakeholders is critical. The expectation is the seminar in Dominica and Antigua will solidify the RNM's relationship with private sector counterparts, to enable the more efficacious flow of positions, information and technical analysis from this vitally important group of stakeholders in international trade,"
said Ambassador Bernal.

Intended to provide a formal structure and expand the breadth of current work being undertaken by the RNM with the regional private sector, a key objective of the IDB/MIF Regional Programme to Strengthen the Private Sector's Role in CARICOM External Trade Negotiations is to more fully integrate the Region's private sector into the external trade negotiation process. Through its three-pronged approach encapsulating sector/industry assessments and consultations, capacity building (such as training seminars), and an outreach component, the project attempts to increase the private sector's awareness of, interest in and capacity to contribute to the Region's external trade negotiation process.

In addition to the participation of RNM technical specialists who serviced the seminars, the RNM's Director of Technical Cooperation & Partnerships, Mr. Trevor Boothe, also attended.

The two seminars were hailed as a success by participants, who lauded the RNM for the briefing initiative. Private sector briefing series are planned for other countries in the Region.

Costa Rica Ratifies CARICOM-Costa Rica FTA

In its second and final debate on the Costa Rica-CARICOM Free Trade Agreement, the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly (or Asamblea Legislativa) ratified the Agreement on August 9, 2005. The Agreement, which was signed between CARICOM and Costa Rica in Kingston, Jamaica on March 9, 2004, received 41 votes of the 48 lawmakers present in the Legislative Assembly.

Two final steps need to be completed further to the August 9 legislative ratification: (a) the signature by the President; and, (b) publication in the Official Newspaper (La Gaceta).

As regards ratification of the Agreement by CARICOM countries, to date only Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago have ratified it.

Gill addresses Seminar marking INTAL's Fortieth Anniversary

RNM Senior Director Mr. Henry Gill addressed a seminar entitled "Integration Perspectives in Latin America and the Caribbean at the Beginning of the 21st Century: Forty years since the Creation of INTAL" in Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 24, organized to commemorate the Fortieth Anniversary of the Institute for the Integration of Latin America and the Caribbean (INTAL).

The seminar, which was inaugurated by Argentina's Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna and which benefited from a major wrap-up reflection on regional integration and the multilateral trading system as hubs for the development of Latin America and the Caribbean by the Inter-American Development Bank's (IDB) outgoing President Enrique Iglesias, featured presentations by distinguished academics and authorities of the various hemispheric integration systems. The gathering focused on such issues as the European integration experience, the relevance of China to Latin America and the Caribbean, an overview of Latin American economies, as well as achievements and limits of regional integration, and finally the integration agenda. In the panel on 'Achievements and Limits of Regional Integration', Mr. Gill took stock of the integration experience in CARICOM, with Mr. Havelock Brewster augmenting this presentation in the panel on the 'Integration Agenda'.

INTAL was created in 1965 to promote regional integration. It forms part of the IDB's Integration and Regional Programs Department. The institute offers training to policy-makers in trade and integration, and helps improve institutional capacity of countries in the region in these areas. INTAL has collaborated with both the RNM and the CARICOM Secretariat in holding a number of regional workshops on themes related to international trade negotiations, and such collaboration is expected to continue.

US has until April 2006 to Comply with Antigua Gambling Decision, says WTO Arbitrator

The WTO Arbitrator appointed to determine a "reasonable time period for implementation" of recommendations and rulings of the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) in Antigua and Barbuda's Internet gaming case against the United States (United States-Measures Affecting the Cross-Border Supply of Gambling and Betting Services) issued an award late last month. The "reasonable period of time" for the United States to implement the recommendations and rulings of the DSB is 11 months and
2 weeks from April 20, 2005; which was the date on which the DSB adopted the Panel and Appellate Body Reports. The Award of the Arbitrator further states that, the reasonable period of time will therefore expire on April 3, 2006. (see www.crnm.org <http://www.crnm.org> for details)

UPCOMING EVENTS

EPA Cluster of meetings in September in St. Lucia

22: EPA National Consultations
23: Session on Services with Stakeholders
26-27pm: EPA College of Negotiators
28: IV CARIFORUM-EC Meeting of Principal Negotiators
29pm: CARIFORUM Ministerial Caucus
30am: II CARIFORUM-EC Ministerial Meeting
30pm: Caribbean Private Sector roundtable discussion on EPAs with the EC and CARIFORUM Ministers


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Nand C. Bardouille
Programme Officer-Trade Information
Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM) 3rd Floor The Mutual Building Hastings Main Road Hastings, Christ Church, Barbados
Tel: (246) 430-1678
Fax: (246) 228-9528
nand.bardouille@crnm.org <mailto:nand.bardouille@crnm.org> http://www.crnm.org


Previous issues of RNM UPDATE are archived on and can be downloaded from the RNM website: http://www.crnm.org
The 'RNM DRAFT CALENDAR 2005', that provides an account of hemispheric and multilateral trade meetings, is available on the RNM website.