…as Govts discuss implementation plan during COTEDThe Caribbean Community (Caricom) on Thursday commenced a two-day discussion with Government Ministers so as to convene deliberations for the implementation plan of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and modifications that should be made for sustainable development.Held at the Marriott Hotel, the 47th Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) meeting saw input from Government representatives of the 15-member states of Caricom, dealing with changes that can be made to the CSME to enable effectiveness and upscale its advantages.The Ministers will also seek to discuss the direction of Caricom’s External Trade Policy and the Region’s trade relations with the United Kingdom post-BREXIT.These are all in keeping with strategic and effective decisions that will boost tradesin the Caribbean expanse.At the opening ceremony, Secretary General of Caricom Irwin LaRocque was amidst the delegation as he emphasised on the importance of this implementation plan and the ways in which countries can benefit on the international market.“The most important immediate task is to improve implementation of our own CaricomSecretary General of Caricom Irwin LaRocqueSingle Market and Economy. It has long been identified as a vehicle to drive us towards sustainable development and position us to take advantage of the opportunities in the international sphere,” said LaRocque.He included that it is in the hands of the respective member states to fulfill their end of the bargain by implementing the plans that were agreed upon.“While there has been progress in implementing the CSME, there is a significant amount of work left to be done. All of this is set up in the implementation plan that has been agreed to by our heads of government and which we have published. It is for member states to implement the plans.”While the representatives focused on ways to sustain Caricom, they also heard that natural disasters that befall one country can have a chain reaction to others as seen in the past. To address these actualities, it is important to eliminate what no longer has value and enable valid reconstruction that will appeal to its members.These sentiments were shared by the Junior Minister of Foreign Trade in Barbados, Sandra Husbands who mentioned that countries are working towards integration so as to have a larger production variety in the economic activity sector.“Our resources are critical. We are in a world where special circumstances of small states are being overlooked and undervalued. This puts us at great risk if we do nothing and presents us with a great opportunity to deconstruct what no longer adds value and to reconstruct that which will enrich our future if we act swiftly,” said Husbands.The Barbadian Minister posed the thought that Caricom States should work as one to achieve favourable results that can be opportune to their economies.“Caricom is one. No longer can we afford to see ourselves as 15. Our very survival depends on our identifying our common interest and acting as one in a common cause to achieve our objectives. We’re not 15 members haggling and negotiating to create individual benefits for our countries. Rather, we are sister territories, striving to manage our resources and opportunities to generate accelerate value and benefit which we share for our mutual benefit.”Secretary General of the World Customs Trade, Dr Kunio Mikuriya would have provided a list of items on the agenda for discussion. Trinidad and Tobago would have requested suspension of the Common External Tariff (CET) on basic food items and some additional items while there was one request from Grenada for the said suspension on food items only.Reconstitution on the preferential tariffs on soap was requested by Dominica along with a notification of the Commonwealth of the country’s intent to ban the use of Styrofoam and select single use plastics in 2019.