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Cuba urges slashing tariffs on intra-Caribbean trade

By Fox News

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FOX NEWS – Cuban President Raul Castro on Monday called for revising and updating the trade and cooperation agreement between his country and the Caribbean Community to scrap tariffs on 300 products.

“Small and vulnerable” countries need to receive “special treatment on trade access and investments,” he said in an address inaugurating the 5th CARICOM-Cuba Summit in Havana.

Cuba also joins other Caribbean nations in demanding the removal of the affected countries from “unilateral lists that hinder economic development and trade with other countries,” he told heads of state and other senior officials from Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

While Communist Cuba has been under a U.S. economic embargo since 1962 and is on Washington’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism, several other Caribbean countries have been stigmatized for inadequate financial regulation, among other things.

Regarding the current state of economic integration within CARICOM, Castro said that fostering cross-border investment among Caribbean countries “continues to be an outstanding issue.”

He also pointed to difficulties in transporting goods inside the region.

The Cuban leader urged Caribbean nations to come together in the face of “shared challenges” such as climate change, health and education, as well as to focus on the “post-2015 development agenda.”

“As small insular states and developing nations we face the challenge of surviving and moving forward in a world convulsed by a global economic crisis,” Castro said during the summit opening at the Palace of the Revolution.

The Cuban president said his country will continue to share its “modest achievements” in education and health as well as other areas like human resources training, disaster management and the fight against Ebola.

CARICOM was founded in 1973 and the regional grouping’s first summit with Cuba was held in 2002.

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