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Canada announces new trade initiatives for the Caribbean

Canada and the Caribbean recorded more than Can$1.8 billion (One Canadian dollar=US$0.73 cents) in merchandise trade last year, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday.

Addressing the trade and investment round table discussion on the final day of the Canada-Caricom summit, Trudeau said various trade programmes make this trading relationship possible by providing many Caribbean countries with duty-free access to goods.

“We want to grow this trade even more to create good jobs and I am happy to announce today that we will be expanding duty-free access under the Commonwealth Caribbean countries tariff programme to textile and apparel.

He said to strengthen the ties between businesses in Canada and the Caribbean workers they employ, “Canada is committed to implementing a new foreign labour programme for agriculture and fish processing under our temporary foreign worker programme.”

Trudeau said that private capital can also help build up a clean economy in an area with a lot of potential for profit, prosperity, and common good “as well as help the region achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs).

“Things like green infrastructure, smart agriculture, renewable energy, clean technology and so much more are all areas in which Canadian innovation and businesses are growing and opportunities to partner with friends in the Caribbean is outstanding.”

Trudeau said it was also important to ensure that the benefits of growth are felt by persons across the two regions “which include making sure that women and girls, LBGQTI persons and those of all racial backgrounds share in this prosperity and are able to build the futures they want”.

He said close people-to-people ties make doing business with the Caribbean a “natural fit” and that the conversations held over the past days “we have really seen the potential, the opportunities that exist between our friendship.

“Now is the time to really dig in and further concretising and expand with more ambition,” he added.

Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali, deputising for Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, as co-chair of the summit, said one of the important outcomes of the discussions on Thursday “is to reset the trade and investment button and we are doing this at the highest level demonstrating to the private sector here in Canada and our region that we are serious about expanding our trade and looking at investment opportunities.

“This component of the summit by itself tells the seriousness that we are putting towards trade and investment and the role of the private sector in the rest of our relationship,” Ali added.