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Guyana - Jagdeo says negotiating mechanism flawed

Jamaica Gleaner

Guyana - Jagdeo says negotiating mechanism flawed

13 January 2009

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC): President Bharrat Jagdeo has taken another jab at the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM). This time he is adamant that it cannot speak for Guyana at upcoming trade talks with Canada.

Jagdeo, who had recently been very critical of the CRNM in the process of the region’s finalisation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Europe, told reporters here on Thursday that a decision would have to be taken at the level of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on how Guyana would be represented in the negotiations with Canada.

The Guyanese leader, who had also been at odds with fellow CARICOM leaders over the EPA accord, charged that the CRNM failed to negotiate a proper deal with Europe.

He therefore suggests that to trust them with another negotiation was not the "smartest" thing to do at this time.

Ability questioned

Last October when the EPA was signed, Jagdeo went as far as to question the ability of the CRNM to represent CARICOM’s interest in the trade talks and he stated then that other leaders had raised similar concerns, even though had not publicly expressed their position.

According to him, the CRNM operates "as though it’s an independent entity vested with different powers." Jagdeo believes it should be brought under the authority of the CARICOM Secretariat.

But reacting to the president’s latest statements, the leader of the minority Alliance For Change (AFC), Raphael Trotman, has expressed dissatisfaction over Jagdeo’s public pronouncements on the issue, which he says do not augur well for the credibility of the CRNM on the international scene.

"The CRNM is an integral cog in the CARICOM wheel of negotiations," Trotman said.

He suggests that the better approach would have been to call for a revamping of the body given the recent experience with the EPA negotiations.

The CRNM was created by CARICOM governments to develop, coordinate and execute an overall negotiating strategy for various external trade negotiations in which the region is involved.

The Barbados-based negotiating arm of CARICOM is responsible for developing and maintaining a framework for the coordination and management of the Caribbean Region’s negotiating resources and expertise.