"One of the aims of the Cohesion Policy is to ensure that, in addition to supporting disadvantaged countries, the CDF should, by 2020, support targeted pilot projects in every Member State.
"I urge Member States to complete long overdue national consultations, to enable the formulation and implementation of these interventions," he said.
"And of course there is also the need to replenish the Fund. The CDF is written into the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and we are obliged to ensure its operation," Larocque noted.
The CARICOM Secretarty General reminded trade ministers attending the forty eighth meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) being held at the CARICOM Secretariat in Guyana, that the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF), was designed to provide assistance to Regions, countries and sectors disadvantaged by the operations of the CSME.
"As part of its mission to reduce the gaps in the development of Member States, a proposed Cohesion Policy has been put forward by the CDF which would support the CARICOM Strategic Goal of ‘Building Economic Resilience – Stabilisation and Sustainable Economic Growth and Development’, Larocque said.
He pointed out that "Completing our internal market and economic arrangements will allow us to engage more effectively as a unit with our international trading partners. We have been active in that arena, with most notably ensuring that our trading relationship with the United Kingdom will remain essentially the same when that country leaves the European Union."
"To that end at the CARIFORUM level, we have concluded and signed the CARIFORUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement. The agreement is designed to ensure continued preferential access to UK markets and safeguards current and future trade flow between the countries of the Region and the UK," he informed.
"We are also engaged closer to home with consolidating trading relations with the United States and considering proposals to improve existing agreements with Costa Rica and Colombia," he added.
Ambassador LaRocque concluded that "Our small economies face a number of challenges, which we have to confront head on. Nevertheless, we continue to demonstrate to the world that a group of small and vulnerable economies can make progress on the basis of joint commitments to human and economic development."
He obsewrved that "Small size should not in itself be a hindrance to progress. What matters is the extent to which we continue to develop our human capital, foster innovation within our economies, and present ourselves to the outside world as a Region that is welcoming to international partnerships and investment."
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