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(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) The head of the European Union delegation in Trinidad and Tobago has said the matter of the “blacklisting” of this country is receiving “the highest level attention” and a solution is imminent.
Ambassador Peter Cavendish told the Express during an interview at his office last week the matter has been receiving “the highest level attention”, and that it is “close to achieving agreement”.
He said there have been very senior contacts with the relevant EU institutions on the matter and the discussions now involve the respective directors general at the EU, the Trinidad and Tobago Attorney General, and “associated parties”,
The ambassador was asked to respond to the declaration by Finance Minister Colm Imbert when asked about the matter on January 14. A story in the Express on January 15 quoted Minister Imbert as saying he was “well aware” of the matter. This was in response to a question from Opposition MP Rodney Charles who had asked the Finance Minister whether he was aware that the Government had repeatedly promised to get off the blacklist, but had not been able to do so since 2017.
The minister’s response was as follows: “I am well aware of that and just this week (week of January 14) I wrote to the European Union in furtherance of our objective to move to the grey list in 2022.”
Asked about this. Ambassador Cavendish said the Attorney General was “fully conversant with the latest developments” in this matter and that there were no existing grounds for confusion on either side. He said, in fact, there was goodwill on both sides. He said from the EU’s position the objective was to try to avoid what he termed “de-listings”.
Known in the Caribbean as “blacklisting”, this is the system under which some countries are penalised because of their failure to meet financial commitments in the trading and financial system with EU countries. Trinidad and Tobago has been among other countries which have complained about what they deem punitive arrangements, with some leaders protesting that such action is often taken unilaterally. The EU delegation leader then explained that in the EU system itself, countries which did not meet their commitments in this regard are taken to court.
He added that the EU managing director for the Americas Brian Glynn was due to pay a visit to the region in mid-February, but this timetable was being adjusted due to an imminent visit to Brussels by the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. Glynn is due to visit Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Barbados and St Lucia, Cavendish said.
During the interview Cavendish outlined what appeared to be a comprehensive plan for a multi-pronged revised partnership agreement between the EU and countries in the Americas, and in other developing countries. It is being referred to as “The Global Gateway”. It is essentially a programme for investment across major social and economic sectors. It is meant to compete with the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative.
The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security has presented a paper the European Parliament, its Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions and the European Investment Bank, on this initiative. Key objectives under are bundled under such lofty guiding principles as: democratic values and high standards; good governance and transparency; equal partnerships; a green and clean climate-neutral strategy; security and the catalysing of private sector investment. In the case of Trinidad and Tobago, Cavendish rhapsodised about the potential reviving the country’s cocoa industry towards the production of high-grade chocolates. This is seen as one means by which significant agricultural activity could be catalysed. Other significant potential exists in the modernisation of the country’s two major industrial and commercial ports, he said.