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Trade issues too distant from climate change discussions, says Vaz

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

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Jamaica has called on member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to include the cost associated with climate change in any discussion on international trade.

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz made the call on Monday as he addressed the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Geneva, Switzerland.

“It is imperative that this gathering does more than just explore the linkages between trade, climate change, the blue economy and biodiversity,” Vaz said. “We should seek to explore innovative ideas and make strong recommendations on approaches to utilising global trade and trade-related policies to enable and support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.”

He noted that the Paris Agreement, which was inked in 2015 with the aim of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate and increasing the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change, makes no mention of trade.

But Vaz argued that trade has an important role to play in addressing climate change.

“To meet the ambitious targets as described… under the Paris Agreement, it is necessary to ensure that there are no loopholes in international agreements, especially trade and economic agreements, as these have typically been negotiated in fora that are separate and independent of climate negotiations,” added Vaz, who is representing Prime Minister Andrew Holness at the forum.

Vaz argued that Jamaica, and other small island developing states (SIDS), which are net food importers, are particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change and need more help to align finance and trade policies to deal with this threat.

“I am here therefore to deliver… an urgent call for member countries of the WTO to facilitate the necessary trade concessions, special and differential treatment and flexibilities that could serve to assist in addressing structural and capacity constraints in the markets of SIDS,” he said.

“These, we believe, would be positive and timely response measures. They would also serve as mechanisms through which to transfer technology and innovations to SIDS,” declared Vaz.

He told the forum that while Jamaica is prepared to make the necessary structural changes, including domestic climate finance planning to face the challenge, there is a need for further technical support, knowledge exchange and the involvement of the international community.

“At this important UN Trade Forum, Jamaica, as a voice for SIDS, wishes to highlight this concern and reiterate its call for enlightened and strong leadership and for a concerted effort among all parties, in addressing this global challenge,” said Vaz.


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