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Zoellick to Meet with Caribbean Trade Ministers in Trinidad and Tobago September 11 to Discuss Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)

Zoellick To Join in Morning Memorial Service for the Victims of September 11

WASHINGTON - United States Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick will meet with Caribbean Trade Ministers in Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday, September 11 to discuss the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), progress on global trade talks, and closer trade ties between the Caribbean nations and the United States.

"The United States is continuing to lead trade liberalization efforts globally, regionally, and bilaterally, and the FTAA is a key regional priority. I am pleased to have the opportunity to hear from my Caribbean colleagues about their priorities for the FTAA," said Zoellick, who noted this was his first visit to Trinidad.

The discussions are part of the Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on External Negotiations, an arm of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM).

"The Caricom countries are an important voice on the road to the FTAA negotiations in Quito, Ecuador this November," he added.

Improving Caribbean nations' ability to trade and participate in trade negotiations, including by enhancing governments' capability to analyze trade issues, improving regional institutions, and fostering business development, will be an important part of the discussions. Assisting developing countries in ways to participate fully and effectively in trade negotiations and the global economy is important for all trading partners. U.S. trade capacity-building assistance to the Caribbean Community totaled over $19.6 million, which represents a 27 percent increase over last year. In addition, the Trade Act of 2002 included trade-expanding opportunities to the Caribbean Basin Initiative worth an estimated $800 million.

"I look forward to our discussions with government officials, private sector leaders, and leaders in civil society about ways to promote economic development and prosperity," Zoellick said. Joining the delegation will be officials from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

Zoellick will deliver remarks at a special service in remembrance of the victims of September 11 which will be held at the Chaguaramas Military History and Aviation Museum before attending the COTED meeting.

Following the COTED meetings, Zoellick will meet with the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Patrick Manning, and with Trade and Investment Minister Ken Valley. Zoellick will also participate in a roundtable discussion with representatives of local businesses sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce. In addition, he will visit the Cotton Tree Foundation, a non-profit charity that teaches entrepreneurship to the underprivileged.

Members of the delegation will include Mr. Adolfo Franco, Assistant U.S. AID Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean; Amb. Mosina Jordan, U.S. AID Mission Director, Jamaica; Mr. Robert Devlin, Deputy Manager of the Integration and Regional Programs, Inter-American Development Bank; and Mrs. Barbara Bradford, Deputy Director, U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

Background

Negotiations among the 34 democracies of the Western Hemisphere on the FTAA continue, with Vice-Ministerial discussions recently in Santo Domingo and the upcoming Ministerial meeting this November in Quito, Ecuador, after which the United States will join Brazil in co-chairing the final stage of FTAA negotiations. The negotiations are scheduled to conclude by the end of 2004.

The United States and the Caribbean Community share $9.2 billion in total (two-way) trade in goods. U.S. goods exports to Caribbean Community members have increased nearly 60 percent since 1994. U.S. imports of Caribbean Community goods are $4 billion, an increase of 64 percent in the same time period.

U.S. technical assistance includes Caribbean regional projects of over $11 million, designed to stimulate business development, reform and modernize the telecommunications sector, provide fiscal and monetary training, and assist with the development of food safety, animal, and plant health regulation. Bilateral programs in Guyana, Haiti, and Jamaica were over $776,000, $5.8 million, and $1.9 million respectively.

The Caribbean Community member countries are: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Suriname, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago. The COTED is the arm of the Caribbean Community that promotes trade and the economic development of the Community and overseas operation of the Common Market.

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