New Impetus Needed to Complete a Canada-Caribbean Trade Deal: C.D. Howe Institute

Jan 10, 2013, 10:00 ET from C.D. Howe Institute

TORONTO, Jan. 10, 2013 /CNW/ - Canada should step up efforts to wrap up a trade deal this year with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), according to a report released by the C.D. Howe Institute. In "A Canada-CARICOM "Trade-not-Aid" Strategy: Important and Achievable," author Phil Rourke says a Canada-CARICOM trade deal could serve as a model for agreements with other low- and middle-income countries.

"Canada's aggressive trade negotiation strategy needs to close some deals and divert resources to others, such as in Asia, if it is to be successful.  While the Canada-CARICOM negotiations have made little progress to date, a more development-friendly model with a narrower agenda could wrap up the deal relatively quickly," says Rourke.

"Canada is used to negotiating trade deals with developed countries and its model for negotiations reflects that.  But the future trade agenda is mainly in the developing world, where Canada has less experience.   Because a trade deal with CARICOM could serve as a model for future trade pacts with other countries, these negotiations should make the cut on Canada's priority list."

Trade negotiations with CARICOM have progressed unevenly since their launch in 2007, he notes, partly due to severe stresses in the region in the wake of the global recession of 2008/2009. To spur the talks to a successful conclusion, Rourke recommends finding agreements on a few key practical issues first, on which the more general framework for open trade can be built.

Rourke proposes that Canada work with CARICOM to address the ability of firms in the Caribbean to benefit from more open trade with Canada. This would include launching a process to address regulatory barriers to trade in rum, and re-focusing Canada's current assistance to the region on Caribbean trade-related development priorities as part of a bilateral deal. With much of the potential for bilateral trade growth concentrated in services, Canada could also accept the Caribbean's more limited "positive list" approach to services liberalization, he says, while engaging with the region on broader long-term services liberalization efforts. Cultural trade - important to the Caribbean but a sensitive issue for Canada - could be promoted through cultural exchanges and co-productions, says Rourke.

A deal could enhance the region's economic stability and innovative capacity by securing wider protection for investment and intellectual property, adds Rourke, and address practical impediments to two-way mobility of skilled labor, a topic which will gain in importance in future trade negotiations generally.

For the report go to:

SOURCE C.D. Howe Institute