Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Honourable Sandra Husbands has commended the new Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for her appointment of a special advisor on small vulnerable economies.
The Minister expressed her appreciation to WTO Director General at the 52nd Meeting of the Council on Trade and Economic Development COTED held virtually 1-2 June 2021. She opined that such a move “showed recognition of the fact that small nations like CARICOM, regardless of income, are extremely vulnerable and re-emphasised that this needed to be taken into consideration by all multilateral-organizations.”
Minister Husbands also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had ravished developing economies. She pointed out that income had diminished for many CARICOM countries due to their dependency on tourism. Similarly, debt incurred in response to the pandemic created a negative impact on the ability to trade.
In this vein, the Minister called for the support by the WTO and appealed to member countries to take into consideration the recent plight of CARICOM countries during their deliberations and negotiations.
Citing fisheries as an example, Minister Husband observed that CARICOM countries are oftentimes unable to access the required assistance to meet the demands that may arise in relation to fisheries agreement. “This creates a grave disadvantage for CARICOM countries, therefore, the ability to access critical technical assistance and capacity building resources to enable the Community to participate meaningfully and to benefit is paramount,” she said.
Noting that that there were attempts to place a heavy burden on developing countries that are not contributors to overfishing the Minister underscored that it was critical that adequate policy space is carved out to allow for the continuous sustainable development of fishing sectors, including the ability to grant certain subsidies which are in keeping with the criteria of businesses and overall development. (MFAFT)