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US Vice President Joe Biden in Trinidad and Tobago for trade and energy talks – 28th May 2013

shot0002Energy, Security, Human and Social Development as well as Trade and Investment were some of the main topics on the agenda for the meeting today between Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and US Vice President Joe Biden.

Trinidad’s Kamla Persad-Bissessar played host to the meeting in Trinidad’s Capital Port-of-Spain.

A key outcome of the meeting was the signing of a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between CARICOM and the United States.

The meeting was expected to layout an initial action agenda intended to galvanise trade and investment activities both between the two sides and within CARICOM.

To ensure the agreement goes through, a Council would be established, led by a nominee of the CARICOM Chairman and the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

The Council is expected to meet at least once a year and would among other things, monitor trade and investment relations, identify and work to remove barriers to trade and investment. The Council would also facilitate expanded linkages between the private sectors on both sides. In 2011, the last year for which finalised figures are available, CARICOM had a favourable trade balance with the US, amounting to $1.2 billion US dollars with exports totalling $8.6 billion US dollars.

The discussion on energy was expected to include avenues for co-operation on renewable energy while on Security, progress in implementation of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) and programmes under the Initiative to help stem the flow of small arms into and through the Caribbean will be part of the dialogue.

Also on the agenda was the status of Immigration Reform in the United States and the long standing issue of Criminal Deportee Notification.

In addition, it was expected that the US/CARICOM meeting would have focused on Cooperation in the Promotion of Human Rights and Countering Human Trafficking.

Prime Minister Bissessar, who also has lead responsibility for security within CARICOM, held bilateral talks with Biden.

She is quoted by one regional media expressing hope that Washington and the Caribbean would place increased emphasis on dealing with issues of criminal deportees.

She said increased focus should be placed on improved information and intelligence sharing with respect to criminal deportees, mainly access to complete dossiers on medical and criminal history.

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