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Can Giles facilitate free trade between Canada and CARICOM?

Can Giles facilitate free trade between Canada and CARICOM?

Posted by PanamericanWorld on February 26, 2014

Nicole Giles presented her credentials to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque in February, assuming her role as Canadian Ambassador to CARICOM.

Giles’ appointment comes at a critical time for the region, which was particularly hard hit by the 2008 global financial crisis, and has been slow to gain traction during the recovery. With many of the countries of CARICOM vying for tourism dollars that remain in short supply relative to the pre-crash economy, maintaining trade flows with major economies will be vital in keeping the emerging economies of CARICOM buoyant. Canada, the third largest importer of CARICOM goods (behind the US and UK), is the only developed nation with which it enjoys a trade surplus.

The appointment brings with it certain political implications, as well. The CARICOM region accounts for only 1% of Canada’s trade in goods, but has been a valuable political partner in relation to international issues. Canada will certainly seek to leverage those friendly ties in efforts to curb the trafficking of drugs and firearms and in combating organized crime—priorities that were specified by Ambassador Giles.

During the accreditation ceremony, Giles expressed a wish to help facilitate the augmentation of investment between Canada and the Caribbean through free trade. However, a free-trade agreement between Canada and CARICOM remains a challenge after years of negotiation, and a June agreement deadline is looming. Giles’ part in the next several months of talks will go a long way in determining her legacy as Ambassador.

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