Caricom free trade rumblings grow
There is increasing talk in member nations of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) that there will be a free trade agreement between Caricom and the U.S.
While the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) has basically been stopped cold as the U.S. opts for bilateral trade talks with individual Latin American nations, officials from Caricom say the 15-nation block of Caribbean island nations is a workable entity for a single agreement with the U.S.
Richard Bernal, who as the Caricom director general for regional negotiations machinery would be a key figure in future negotiations, has been quoted in numerous reports as saying Caricom should move 'as soon as possible' to get a free trade agreement with the U.S. He said such an agreement would be critical for Caricom members to stay competitive with the signatory nations of the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR).
Leonard Archer, the Bahamian high commissioner to Caricom, told the Bahama Journal such an agreement is 'inevitable,' as well as the most practical idea for Caricom.
'The U.S. is not the only market, but the most convenient, so if you have a convenient market you don't want to lose it,' he told the newspaper. 'The U.S., because it is so near, is convenient and the shipping would be less than say sending tons of lobster to Europe.'