Editorial | CARICOM-worthy hires | Remark
The appointment by the CARIBBEAN Community (CARICOM) this week of respected diplomats Wayne McCook and Donna Forde, respectively heads of trade and foreign policy, signals, the newspaper hopes, the start of a new affirmed response to global problems by the United Nations. community Newly installed General Secretary, Dr Carla Barnett.
CARICOM is a nascent single market of 15 countries, whose leaders often fail to follow through on agreements they make for the integration of their economies. Frustrated by leaders’ inaction, community secretaries tend to simmer in silence, rather than appearing to question their bosses. The limits of work make it so, say their supporters.
Earlier this year, when Dr Barnett, a Belizean, established herself as the premier’s choice for the job, to succeed Irwin LaRocque, who served for a decade, we urged her to take a new approach. work, leading together and engaging in public advocacy. “Even if this sometimes puts it ahead and at odds with the leaders, who are behind in the implementation.”
We have added: âDr Barnett, in this regard, should approach the work as though it was there for one term and with a clear mission. She must be ready to coax and cuddle and speak directly to leaders. But sometimes she will have to speak directly to the people of the Caribbean. And she’s got to be ready to be fired, if that’s it.“
Indeed, many of the problems that CARICOM now faces are unprecedented in the community’s nearly 50-year history, from the COVID-19 pandemic and the global recession it caused, to the dangers of globalization. global warming and worsening geopolitical tensions, caused, in particular, by Western concerns about China’s rise as a world power. In responding to these challenges, CARICOM must act with caution, but with assurance and confidence. This is why, first, the appointment of Mr. McCook as head of the CARICOM Trade Negotiations Office (OTN) – to succeed his retired Jamaican colleague Gail Mathurin – is a potentially important decision.
Until Roberto Azevedo stepped down as Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) a year in early August 2020, Mr McCook, a seasoned trade negotiator – whose diplomatic missions included terms as as Jamaica’s Ambassador to China and his Representative to United Nations Agencies in Geneva – served as Senior Advisor. Mr McCook should therefore be fully aware of the problems which led to the early departure of his former boss from the WTO. Mr Azevedo said he aimed to break the deadlock within the organization, where the United States of America, citing excessive judicial scope and prejudice against it, blocked the appointment of judges for the WTO appeal system, thus spoiling the dispute settlement process. The Americans’ claims, however, go beyond dispute settlement. They insist on more fundamental reforms of the WTO, including China’s membership base, which Washington says gives Beijing unfair trade advantages even as its companies steal the intellectual property of others.
While the US concerns primarily impact disputes among the world’s most powerful economies, most developing countries, including CARICOM members, maintain that they have been largely excluded from the promised benefits. of globalization when the WTO was launched over a quarter of a century ago. Indeed, the Doha round of trade negotiations, which was supposed to address the concerns of developing countries, collapsed without keeping those promises. Since then, nothing has emerged on the global trade agenda that places issues of importance to developing countries at the center of discussions. CARICOM must therefore ensure that any reform of the WTO takes its interests into account. Unlike the Uruguay Round which led to the creation of the WTO, they must not accept any kick from the bucket later.
Pursue common interests
Mr. McCook, by coordinating the CARICOM approach in these negotiations, not only brings an intimate understanding of the Geneva corridors and the nuances of the issues that are on the table, but probably, part of the strategic thinking of Mr. Azevedo, Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
However, CARICOM cannot defend its interests in the WTO, and elsewhere on the world stage, as a group in its own right. Nor should the region attempt to hitch its wagon to a bloc as a junior partner in a resumed Cold War, even if the protagonists call it otherwise.
CARICOM should therefore rally the countries of the Global South, regardless of ideological perspectives, to pursue common interests. This will require the community to avoid falling prey, as it has in the recent past, to divisive flattery wrapped up to represent seats at a fleeting table.
Much of what happens in this regard will, of course, depend on the position of leaders in national capitals. However, the community secretariat must provide the collective of prime ministers with a clear and detailed perspective of the world working for the benefit of CARICOM as a group. This will mainly fall to Ms. Forde, former Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Barbados Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in her new role as CARICOM’s Deputy Secretary General for Foreign and Community Relations. Ms. Forde is known for her clarity of thought. And if her thinking has in any way helped shape Barbados’ foreign policy and its articulation by Prime Minister Mia Mottley, her presence in the secretariat should be a boon to CARICOM.
But, at the end of the day, if the new hires do their jobs well, their value will rise and gain real value if Secretary General Barnett leads forward.