rnm update - 2000-02-04

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    RNM UPDATEFebruary 4, 2000

    Prepared by the Communications Division of the Caribbean RegionalNegotiating Machinery (RNM), this electronic newsletter focuses on the

    RNM, trade negotiation issues within its mandate and related activities.************************************************************

    - COMMUNICATIONS PARTNERSHIP STRATEGY- RNM DONORS MEETING- GRENADA NATIONAL CONSULTATION- ACTIVITIES IN JAMAICA- CARICOM-CUBA NEGOTIATIONS- CARICOM-DR NEGOTIATIONS

    ************************************************************

    COMMUNICATIONS PARTNERSHIP STRATEGY

    The RNM was created by the Conference of Heads of Government of theCaribbean Community with a mandate to develop a cohesive tradenegotiating strategy for the Region under the political direction andsupervision of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on ExternalEconomic Relations. The RNM is led by Sir Shridath Ramphal, theRegion's Chief Negotiator, with the assistance of Sir Alister McIntyre, itsChief Technical Advisor.

    Within the context of its mandate the RNM has begun to implement itsCommunications Partnership Strategy (CPS), which is conceived as a two-way information flow between the RNM and its stakeholders --governments (including inter-governmental bodies), the private sector andthe rest of civil society (labour, academia, NGOs, etc.) -- both within theCaribbean and beyond.

    In order to inform and educate stakeholders about the negotiationchallenges faced and the RNM's work, we will produce and disseminateon a regular basis a range of communication products to assist you inkeeping abreast of negotiations issues, developments and agendas invarious forums, as well as the RNM's involvement therein. As a first stepin systematizing its information outreach, the RNM has recently produceda brochure entitled The RNM in Briefwith essential information about theorganization, including the nature of its mandate, challenges faced,sources of funding, structure and functioning, collaborative partnerships,main activities and some achievements to date. The RNM is aiming to

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    develop further its web site so that it can serve as a major information andcommunications vehicle.

    The RNM is also seeking to glean information from stakeholders whichwill assist it in formulating policy positions and strategies. In this regard

    requests for particular kinds of information will from time time be directedto specific segments of our stakeholders, for example, the businesscommunity. However, we also welcome general feedback, suggestionsand unsolicited information that may be deemed useful.

    The CPS is one of five elements being implemented within the frameworkof the RNM's CARICOM Trade Project, which is funded through a grantfrom the U.K. Department of International Development (DFID). Theothers are technical studies; call-down expertise (whereby regional orinternational experts can be made available at short notice to undertakespecific short-term technical tasks and assignments; our ProfessionalTrainees Program (see next UPDATE); and a computerisation element.

    RNM DONORS MEETING

    The RNM is financed mainly by regional governments, donor agenciesboth regional and external, and with some input from the region's privatesector. Donor assistance has contributed in a significant way to capacitybuilding and is responsible for training workshops and seminars,professional apprenticeships, technical studies, information technologyexpansion and upgrading, communications development, travel and otherareas. The main sources of such funding to date have been the CaribbeanDevelopment Bank, DFID, USAID, CIDA and the Inter-AmericanDevelopment Bank.

    As part of its institutional planning efforts, the RNM convened a Meetingof Donors on January 12, 2000 hosted by the the Caribbean DevelopmentBank and co-chaired by Sir Neville Nicholls, CDB President, and SirShridath Ramphal. Also in attendance were representatives of theGovernment of Barbados, the UK and Canadian Governments, USAID,IDB and UNDP. The meeting reviewed current partnerships and examinednew areas for cooperation. Donor response was very encouraging and afollow-up meeting is to take place to discuss detailed project proposalsand accompanying budgets to be prepared by the RNM in relation to thevarious areas identified for donor cooperation.

    GRENADA WORKSHOP

    At the request of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, the Chief Negotiator

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    and other RNM personnel participated in a national consultation inGrenada on January 14, 2000 involving the social partners on the statusand future direction of the three sets of external negotiations in which theregion is involved -- negotiations towards a successor agreement to theLom Convention, the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and

    continuing WTO Negotiations. The RNM also took the opportunity toinform the participants about the status of the region's bilateral tradenegotiations, e.g. CARICOM/Dominican Republic, and the negotiatingstrategy being pursued.

    The Chief Negotiator indicated that a framework agreement of futurecooperation between the African, Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP) andthe European Union (EU) should be finalised at the next ACP/EUministerial session on February 2-3, 2000 (for full results, see next week'sUPDATE). The new agreement would:

    -provide for current Lom preferences to be rolled over for eight years andwould be defined as a "preparatory period", during which the ACP Stateswill have the opportunity to consider all possible alternative tradearrangements, including the regional economic partnership agreements orREPAs (the EU proposal). The EU would seek a WTO waiver for therollover period.

    -The new financial envelope would be approximately 13.5 billion Eurosand a further 9 billion Euros of unspent funds from previous EuropeanDevelopment Fund (EDF) allocations.

    -A new investment facility to provide financing directly to the privatesector with an interest rate subsidy of at least 3 percent below marketrates.

    The private sector was strongly encouraged to take advantage of the considerablefinancial resources available under the investment facility to assist the private sector inexpanding productive capacity and achieve international competitiveness in thepreparatory period. Similarly, governments would need to utilise the resources of theEDF to enhance and build capacity to meet the challenges and take advantage of theopportunities offered by liberalisation.

    With respect to the WTO negotiations in Seattle, it was agreed that their breakdown had a

    positive outcome for developing countries. It demonstrated the solidarity amongdeveloping countries not to agree to further negotiations in the WTO until there is"review, repair and reform" of existing agreements. Furthermore, it forced theindustrialised countries to recognise that the negotiating process in the WTO must bemore democratic with the full participation of developing countries. Future negotiationscould not proceed until this is done.

    The FTAA was seen as an imponderable and would be greatly influenced by domestic

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    US politics. It was recognised that the region made considerable progress in advancingthe case for special and differential treatment for small states at the FTAA Ministerials inToronto (November 1999) and this was reflected in the Ministerial Declaration. Theregion will continue to participate in the negotiations pursuing the case for smalleconomies.

    Finally, there was strong support for concluding trade agreements with the DominicanRepublic and Cuba. These were seen as providing an opportunity for firms to expandexports of goods and services and diversify the regions export base.

    ACTIVITIES IN JAMAICA

    On Tuesday, January 18th 2000 the RNM was involved in two important activities inJamaica which coincided with the meeting of its College of Negotiatiors. The College,comprising the Region's lead and alternate negotiators for each subject within the FTAAprocess, meets periodically in order to review developments within that negotiatingforum and to plan strategy and positions for upcoming meetings.

    The first activity was organized in collaboration with the Private Sector Organization ofJamaica (PSOJ), which hosted a Breakfast Seminar to discuss Trade Negotiations AfterSeattle. The Seminar was addressed by Chief Negotiator Sir Shridath Ramphal, ChiefTechnical Advisor Sir Alister McIntyre and Ambassador Peter King, Lead Negotiator forMarket Access In the FTAA Negotiations. Other members of the panel included the Hon.Anthony Hilton, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, AmbassadorRichard Bernal, and Mr. Peter Moses, Managing Director, Citibank Jamaica. TheSeminar examined the outcome of the Seattle WTO Ministerial Meeting and theprospects for future trade negotiations involving CARICOM countries.

    The second activity involved a workshop convened within the framework of theCRNM/IDB Technical Cooperation Project, which was attended by government officialsand other participants. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss the preliminaryfindings of two consultancy studies on "Smallness as a factor in the Lom, FTAA andWTO Negotiations" by Dr. Anthony Gonzales, and "Preparing the Caribbean for Joiningthe FTAA" by Dr. David Lewis.

    CARICOM-CUBA NEGOTIATIONS

    Preparations are underway for eventual bilateral trade negotiations between CARICOMMember States and Cuba. Following an earlier proposal, on 10 September 1998 Cubasubmitted for CARICOM consideration a "Trade Development Agreement between theCaribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Government of the Republic of Cuba".Acting on the reco