CARICOM support for hurricane devastated island continues

Steering Committee meeting
Representatives of Member States and Institutions participate online

Following on from the successful staging of the CARICOM-UN High Level Pledging Conference at UN Headquarters in New York on 21 November 2017, the Steering Committee has continued to meet with renewed focus on translating pledges into concrete programmes and initiatives.

Steering Committee meeting-2
CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque (2nd left) and other CARICOM Secretariat Officials at the meeting

The Steering Committee, comprising representatives of the CARICOM Secretariat, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Regional Institutions and CARICOM Member States including those devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria, held its most recent meeting on Tuesday 9 January 2018. The Committee is examining the option of a follow-up meeting to the Pledging Conference to map out actions  to meet the objective of building a more climate resilient Community.

The Pledging Conference mobilized a broad partnership to support the rebuilding effort including through US1.3 billion in pledges and over US1 billion in loans and debt relief. This support came from nearly 400 high-level representatives from governments, multilateral and civil society organisations and businesses.

Irma and Maria – two category five hurricanes, hit the region during a two week period in September, decimating decades of development gains in Dominica, Barbuda – the sister island of Antigua, the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla.  The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis and Haiti also suffered damage.  Other Caribbean Islands, notably St. Maarten, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominica Republic were also significantly impacted.

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

CARICOM Facebook Christmas banner
WTO_Ministerial-2
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.

WTO_Ministerial_Barbados
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…)

DECLARATION OF ST. MARY’S ON THE OCCASSION OF THE SIXTH CARICOM-CUBA SUMMIT. ST. MARY’S, ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA, 8 DECEMBER 2017

Head-Table_CARICOM-Cuba-Summit[176753]
Head Table: (l-r) Cuba’s President Raul Castro; CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell of Grenada; Antigua-Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne; CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque
We, the Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community and the Republic of Cuba, meeting in St. Mary’s, Antigua and Barbuda, on 8 December 2017, on the occasion of the Sixth CARICOM-Cuba Summit and in commemoration of the forty-fifth anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations among the independent states of CARICOM and Cuba and the fifteenth anniversary of CARICOM-Cuba Day.

Proud of our shared Caribbean identity and the strong and high level of bilateral and political relations, strengthened by the arrangements we have signed that have permitted us to advance our national development agenda on behalf of our peoples on the basis of solidarity and regional cooperation.

Aware of the importance of working together for the sustainable development of our countries, that allows us to build more inclusive societies and to address our common vulnerabilities as small developing States, in particular Small Island Developing States, especially in the environmental and economic spheres. (more…)

Belize hosts pivotal CARICOM-Mexico Summit

Grenada_PM_Keith-Mitchell

The CARICOM-Mexico Summit on Wednesday 25 October, 2017, in Belize is seen as a pivotal opportunity for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to strengthen cooperation with Mexico, one of the world’s largest integrated economies.

The Summit, at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza, brings together CARICOM Heads of Government and their Foreign Ministers, and the President of Mexico and his Foreign Minister.

It is being co-chaired by CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell of Grenada and President of Mexico His Excellency Enrique Peña Nieto. They will be joined in addressing the Opening Ceremony by CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, and the Prime Minister of Belize Mr. Dean Barrow.


With the Caribbean Community and Mexico still recovering from widespread destruction and loss of life caused by a spate of natural disasters in September, disaster management and recovery will be a major focus of the discussions. (more…)