Canada to negotiate free-trade deal with Caribbean
19 July 2007
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados/Canadian Press — Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to announce that Canada will begin negotiating a free-trade agreement with the 15 countries of the Caribbean Community.
Harper emerged from an early-morning meeting with his Barbados counterpart, saying he would use an address to Caribbean leaders later in the day to make a "significant announcement" aimed at deepening Canada’s partnership with the region.
Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur scooped Harper at a news conference, saying the region is looking for a "mature, modern trade deal" with Canada that would include not only goods but services and a dispute-settlement mechanism.
Alluding to a new Canadian tax measure on foreign interest deductibility, Arthur said that Barbados is not looking to "defraud Revenue Canada" and is prepared to take action to ensure that his country is not used as a tax haven.
The two leaders also discussed Haiti, the poor member of the Caribbean club, which Harper is to visit on Friday.
While praising Canada’s generosity, Arthur said it is not enough to throw money at Haiti because at present it lacks the institutions of a civil society to make adequate use of those resources.
Canada contributes more to Haiti than any other country in the region.