Time to Re- Think and Re- Energize CARICOM- Canada Relations
Economic relations between CARICOM and Canada have a long history and the political relationship has always been positive. However, much of Canada's foreign relations with CARICOM is focused on development aid. While Canadian companies do significant business in CARICOM, for decades there has been little real growth or diversification in the region's exports to Canada. There is clear need to find ways of fitting Caribbean firms into new global value chains in which Canada is engaged. The cultural and social ties between the two are quite significant and Caribbean immigrants in Canada contribute in various spheres to that society. But there are significant issues like increasing crime in CARICOM states which Canada could better address. In recent years, the bilateral relationship has become a bit stale. In order to re- invigorate theÂ relationship it is necessary to introduce new ideas and strategic thinking on how to better harness the complementarities between CARICOM and Canada. The current negotiations towards a comprehensive trade and investment agreement provide an opportunity to address long-standing economic issues but should also seek afresh to re-kindle the "special relationship." However, Canada must not try to impose its usual template for free trade agreements on CARICOM; both sides need to be creative and innovative in terms of designing a new framework for bilateral economic, political, social and cultural relations for their mutual benefit.