Thursday, March 6, 2008

Barbados, Canada sign the Caribbean's first open skies deal

CARIBBEAN360

OTTAWA, Canada, March 6, 2008 - Barbados and Canada have reached an Open Skies-type air transport agreement to increase trade, tourism and investment between the two countries.

The deal which is the first of its kind in the Caribbean, allows carriers to provide scheduled air services as frequently as desired between cities in Canada and Barbados. The agreement also allows the airlines to react quickly to market conditions by more effectively adjusting prices and gives them greater flexibility in offering both passenger and cargo flights to and from third countries, including Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states.

The provisions of the deal will be applied immediately and once ratified, the agreement will replace the 1985 one now in force.

Canada's Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Lawrence Cannon announced the negotiated agreement which builds on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's July 2007 visit to the Caribbean region. During that trip, the North American leader outlined his country's re-engagement in the Americas as a critical, long-term international priority for the government.

"This is Canada's first Open Skies-type agreement in the Caribbean region and signals another step forward in providing greater flexibility for air services for passengers, businesses, air carriers and airports," said Mr Cannon. "I am pleased with the outcome of these negotiations, marking another bilateral air services agreement achieved under Canada's Blue Sky policy."

Minister of International Trade, David Emerson added that the new agreement will provide a stronger basis for competitive air services.

"We anticipate this will generate even more growth in trade, tourism and investment," he said.

Last year trade between Canada and CARICOM member states stood at CAD$2.2 billion (US$2.23 billion), a 20-per-cent increase from 2006. Canadian merchandise exports to CARICOM totalled CAD$725 million (US$736 million) and merchandise imports from CARICOM totalled CAD$1.47 billion (US$1.49 billion).

In 2006, 25,600 Canadians travelled to Barbados, while the CARICOM region received more than 251,100 Canadian tourists in 2006.

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