Cuba and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) have signed the second phase of an existing Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement, originally initiated in 2000, to strengthen economic trade and commerce between member countries.
Caricom’s Irwin LaRocque and Julio César González Marchante, along with Cuba’s ambassador to Guyana, signed the binding agreement at the 45th regular session of the Council for Trade and Economic Development which took place in Georgetown, the Guyanese capital.
According to Caricom, the bilateral accord will eliminate non-tariff barriers to trade; regulate health and sanitary conditions of commerce between participating countries, and eliminate duty on more than 320 Cuba-traded items, including meat, fish, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, beer, rum, cement, soap and apparel.
Member countries allow Cuba duty free access to about 50 items, including fish, pharmaceutical products, fertilisers and articles of iron and steel. The deal was confirmed just days after the United States announced fresh trade sanctions against Cuba.
Party members say the newly strengthened trade agreement represents an important step toward “regional integration” prior to the VI Caricom-Cuba Summit, due to be held in Antigua and Barbuda December 8, that will celebrate 45 years of collaboration.
Caricom is comprised of 20 member and associate members, including Haiti, St. Lucia, Belize, Dominica, Suriname and Barbados. Member nations came to the aid of Dominica with logistics, helicopter support, first aid, and hundreds of thousands of dollars after the country was hit by Hurricane Maria in September.