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Caricom to pursue more bilateral trade agreements with US and Canada

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Basseterre St. Kitts July 04: Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller has endorsed a proposal for regional states to pursue more bilateral arrangements with the United States.

The proposal was made Monday by a ministerial sub-committee of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) which was chaired by Mrs. Simpson-Miller.

During Monday's meeting, the group recommended that CARICOM pursue agreements with the US and Canada similar to the one it already shares with the trade bloc, MERCUSOR.

In endorsing the proposal, Prime Minister Simpson-Miller cautioned however that with agreements of this nature it would be best not to rush the process.

She said the pursuit of a bilateral agreement would be beneficial to Jamaica and other small states.

In the meantime, Director General of CARIOM's Regional Negotiating Machinery, Ambassador Richard Bernal, says it is no longer feasible for the region to rest its hopes on the formation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

Ambassador Bernal says from all indications the FTAA will not come into effect before the end of the decade.

He says research carried out by his office has shown that it is possible to derive similar benefits through bilateral agreements with the North American states.

Responding to questions about Venezuela, Ambassador Bernal said pursuing bilateral agreements with Caracas should not impede trade agreements with the US.

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