The meeting will primarily focus on the conclusion of market access negotiations which gathered momentum in 2014. CARICOM and Cuba have been seeking to expand preferential access to their respective goods markets beyond what is currently provided under the Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (TECA), which was signed in 2000.
While CARICOM Least Developed Countries, namely the members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and Belize, enjoy preferential access to the Cuban market, the TECA does not require these countries to reciprocate preferential access to Cuban exports. Therefore, while all CARICOM countries will become beneficiaries of additional access that is successfully negotiated, expanded preferential access for Cuban exports will be limited to the markets of CARICOM More Developed Countries.
CARICOM member states, supported by the CARICOM Secretariat, have been working diligently on developing negotiation proposals that would engender a positive outcome at the upcoming meeting. This is in keeping with the mandate from the heads of state and government of CARICOM and of Cuba at the fifth CARICOM-Cuba Summit in December 2014, and would be an important milestone in the improvement of CARICOM-Cuba trade and economic cooperation.
It is also anticipated that CARICOM and Cuba will finalize product specific rules of origin (PSRO). Such rules are for determining the criteria for specific goods to be considered as “originating” from either CARICOM or Cuba in order to qualify for preferential access to their respective markets. The agreements reached by the parties during the meeting will be detailed under a new protocol which the parties are expected to initial at the conclusion of the meeting of the Joint Commission.