CARICOM calls for focused global attention on impact of climate change on small vulnerable states – WTO Ministerial Meeting

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Plenary at the WTO Ministerial (photo via WTO)

This year, many small and vulnerable economies in the Caribbean, including some in CARICOM, notably Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, The Bahamas,  Haiti, British Virgin Islands (BVI), Anguilla, Turks and Caicos suffered massive devastation and absolute destruction of critical infrastructure from two unprecedented hurricanes, fueled by global warming and climate change.

Colleague Ministers, many of these countries are faced with the herculean task of reconstructing their entire economies. Recovery and redevelopment, including that of their productive capacity, will take several years.

For many of these countries, the timeframes associated with the UN Sustainable Development Goals no longer apply.

It is for these reasons that the time has now come for focused global attention to be paid to the impact of climate change on trade and the  vulnerability of  Small States, like those in CARICOM, whose attempts to insert themselves effectively into the global trading system frequently suffers from the devastating effects of natural disasters.

Accordingly, CARICOM calls on this Conference to support the Declarations of the Small Economies of the OECS and that of the   Ministers of the Small and Vulnerable Economies Group, for the full flexibility of the multilateral trading system be deployed regarding the reconstruction measures that may be undertaken by the affected Members so that these   be considered compatible with the WTO Agreements.

 

Extract from Statement on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) delivered by the Minister of Commerce, Industry, Investment, Enterprise development and Consumer Affairs of Saint Lucia, Hon. Bradley Felix at the Eleventh World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 11 December 2017.

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Barbados Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Maxine McClean addressing the Conference

The Member States in attendance include:  Barbados, led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; Dominica; Grenada; Haiti; Guyana; Jamaica, led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; St. Kitts/Nevis; Saint Lucia,  led by the Minister of Commerce, Industry, Investment, Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs; St. Vincent & the Grenadines led by the Minster of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade;  and Trinidad and Tobago.  CARICOM representatives are playing an active role in the Conference; the Minister of Jamaica is a Facilitator for the negotiations on Fisheries Subsidies Disciplines and is chairing those discussions; and the Minister of Barbados is the Co-ordinator of the ACP Group, thereby representing the Group in the negotiations.

In light of a questioning of the need for  special and differential treatment for developing countries ( by the USA, in particular,)  and a calling into question of a developmental approach in the WTO, CARICOM places great importance on a re-affirmation by the Conference of the multilateral trading system as embodied by the WTO Agreements, that fully provides special and differential treatment for developing countries, especially Small and Vulnerable Economies such as those in the region, in order to assist their insertion into the global trading system.

Read Minister Felix’ full remarks: (more…)

Bahamas PM warns region at great risk of climate change

CDM 10 underway in The Bahamas (Photo via CDEMA)
CDM 10 underway in The Bahamas (Photo via CDEMA)

NASSAU, The Bahamas, Dec 5, CMC – The 10th Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) has begun here with Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis noting that small-island developing states in the region are at great risk of climate change.

The conference, which ends on Saturday, is being held under the theme ‘CDM: The Road to Resilience Check Point 2017 – Building Resilience through Partnerships’.

It is taking place as the region continues the rebuilding efforts following the end of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season that saw two category five storms – Irma and Maria – cause widespread destruction and death across the Lesser Antilles as well as the Bahamas.

Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Anguilla, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the British Virgin islands were among the islands hard4est hit after the hurricanes pounded the region with winds in excess of 200 miles per hour.

Via CMC (more…)

Region needs support to build disaster resilience– Bartlett

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, addresses the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Global Conference on Tuesday (November 28) at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James. (photo via JIS)
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, addresses the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Global Conference on Tuesday (November 28) at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James. (photo via JIS)

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says it is critical that the region get the necessary support to enable it to effectively prepare, manage and recover from natural disasters.

He noted that resilience against hurricanes, earthquakes and other disasters is important in protecting the tourism product on which the people of the region are so heavily dependent.

He was speaking at the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Global Conference on Tuesday (November 28).

Minister Bartlett noted that the Caribbean is the most tourism-reliant region on earth, with one in five workers directly or indirectly employed by the sector while more than 40 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) is directly related to tourism activities.

In addition, he said, of the 79 countries of the world that have tourism-dependence of 10 per cent and more, the top 13 are within the Caribbean space.

Read more at: Jamaica Information Service

Hurricane season officially ends, but impact lingers

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It is finally over.

According to the calendar of the National Hurricane Center, November 30 marks the official end of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which spawned 17 named storm.

Here in the Caribbean, September was particularly brutal with the passage of two Category 5 monsters, Irma and Maria, which left an unprecedented path of death and destruction.

Countries such as Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Puerto Rico, St. Barts, St. Maarten/Martin and the U.S. Virgin Islands all took direct hits and will take years to recover.

The World Bank said damages and losses, in the wake of Hurricane Maria, in Dominica amount to US$1.3-billion or 224 percent of GDP.

Read more at: Dominica News Online

Caribbean can only ‘build back better’ with international support, urgent climate action – UN, CARICOM Chiefs and Heads of Government

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New York, 21 November 2017 – In view of the urgent needs of Caribbean islands affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the “CARICOM-UN High-level Pledging Conference: Building a more Climate-Resilient Community ” mobilised a broad partnership to support reconstruction efforts, including through over US$1.3 billion in pledges and over $1 billion in loans and debt relief.

Support derived from nearly 400 high-level representatives from governments, multilateral and civil society organizations and the private sector gathered at UN headquarters today with the Secretaries-General of the United Nations and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to help countries to “build back better” as the first climate-resilient countries in the world

Recovery costs surpass $5billion, according to the latest needs estimates. In some cases the impact is 3.5 times countries’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP), for example in the British Virgin Islands.The principal economic sectors of tourism and agriculture have been significantly affected, according to assessments made public during the conference, organized by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) working with sister UN agencies.

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