Com­mu­niqué is­sued at the con­clu­sion of The Thirty-Sev­enth Reg­u­lar Meet­ing of the Con­fer­ence of Heads of Gov­ern­ment of the Caribbean Com­mu­nity (CARICOM), 4-6 July 2016, Ge­orge­town Guyana

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

The Thirty-Sev­enth Reg­u­lar Meet­ing of the Con­fer­ence of Heads of Gov­ern­ment of the Caribbean Com­mu­nity (CARICOM) was held at Ge­orge­town, Guyana, on 4 - 6 July 2016. The Prime Min­is­ter of Do­minica, the Hon­ourable Roo­sevelt Sk­er­rit, chaired the pro­ceed­ings.

Other mem­bers of the Con­fer­ence in at­ten­dance were Prime Min­is­ter of An­tigua and Bar­buda, Hon­ourable Gas­ton Browne; Prime Min­is­ter of The Ba­hamas, Rt. Hon­ourable Perry Christie; Prime Min­is­ter of Bar­ba­dos, Rt. Hon­ourable Fre­un­del Stuart; Prime Min­is­ter of Gre­nada, Dr. the Rt. Hon­ourable Keith Mitchell; Pres­i­dent of Guyana, His Ex­cel­lency Bri­gadier (Ret) David Granger; Prime Min­is­ter of Ja­maica, Most Hon­ourable An­drew Hol­ness; Prime Min­is­ter of St. Kitts and Ne­vis, Dr. the Hon­ourable Ti­mothy Har­ris; Prime Min­is­ter of Saint Lu­cia, Hon­ourable Allen Chastanet; Prime Min­is­ter of St. Vin­cent and the Gre­nadines, Dr. the Hon­ourable Ralph Gon­salves; Pres­i­dent of Suri­name, His Ex­cel­lency De­siré Bouterse; and Prime Min­is­ter of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. the Hon­ourable Keith Row­ley.

Belize was rep­re­sented by the Hon­ourable Wil­fred El­ring­ton, Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs; Haiti was rep­re­sented by Prime Min­is­ter, His Ex­cel­lency Enex Jean-Charles; Montser­rat was rep­re­sented by Hon. Del­maude Ryan, Deputy Premier and Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion, Health and Com­mu­nity Ser­vices.

The As­so­ciate Mem­ber in at­ten­dance was Turks and Caicos Is­lands rep­re­sented by Mr. Ron­lee James, Head of Sec­re­tariat at Of­fice of the Premier. Also in at­ten­dance as an in­vited guest was Her Ex­cel­lency Michelle Bachelet, Pres­i­dent of Chile OPEN­ING CER­E­MONY All the speak­ers paid trib­ute to the for­mer Prime Min­is­ter of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. Pa­trick Man­ning, who passed away on 2 July 2016, just prior to the Meet­ing of Con­fer­ence.

In his re­marks, the Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral said that as the Com­mu­nity cel­e­brated 43 years there was “am­ple ev­i­dence over the four decades of the value and ben­e­fit of pool­ing our skills and re­sources.” He also out­lined some of the ar­eas that the Con­fer­ence would ad­dress in­clud­ing correspondent bank­ing, crime and se­cu­rity, non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases, free move­ment, the re­gional econ­omy, the CARICOM Sin­gle Mar­ket and Econ­omy (CSME) and on the for­eign af­fairs front the United King­dom’s vote to leave the Euro­pean Union.

The Pres­i­dent of Suri­name His Ex­cel­lency De­siré Bouterse called for swifter ac­tion on di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of the re­gional econ­omy. He pro­posed that the ser­vices in­dus­tries be de­vel­oped to the point where they be­came “solid for­eign cur­rency earn­ers” char­ac­ter­ized by sus­tain­abil­ity. He urged Mem­ber States, par­tic­u­larly those de­pen­dent on the ex­trac­tive sec­tors, to come to­gether and brain­storm on so­lu­tions to the myr­iad chal­lenges con­fronting them.

The Prime Min­is­ter of Ja­maica the Most Hon­ourable An­drew Hol­ness called for the move­ment of Labour through­out the Caribbean Com­mu­nity to be made as easy as that of the move­ment of goods. Prime Min­is­ter Hol­ness em­pha­sized that for many, in­clud­ing the man in the street, free­dom of move­ment rep­re­sented a tan­gi­ble ben­e­fit of re­gional in­te­gra­tion. He also ad­vised that Ja­maica would be pur­su­ing in­creased bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ships with its CARICOM coun­ter­parts.

The Prime Min­is­ter of Saint Lu­cia the Hon­ourable Allen Chastanet said that the prom­ise of re­gional in­te­gra­tion is “slowly start­ing to put some flesh on our bones in some ar­eas.” He added that poli­cies and struc­tures that were lan­guish­ing needed to be re­viewed so that new and more ef­fec­tive ones could be put in place. He chal­lenged the Re­gion not to be afraid to do more as it had al­ready demon­strated its abil­ity to punch above its weight in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. The Prime Min­is­ter of St. Vin­cent and the Gre­nadines Dr. the Hon­ourable Ralph Gon­salves said that CARICOM needed to deepen the in­te­gra­tion process. Fur­ther, he stressed the need to ac­knowl­edge the achieve­ments and “see how we can build on them rather than beat­ing up on our­selves need­lessly.” He warned against pes­simism and a learned help­less­ness. Not­with­stand­ing all the chal­lenges of re­gion­al­ism, Prime Min­is­ter Gon­salves reaf­firmed the pri­macy of com­plet­ing the CARICOM Sin­gle Mar­ket and Econ­omy for con­tin­ued progress in the Re­gion.

The Prime Min­is­ter of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. the Hon­ourable Keith Row­ley af­firmed the im­por­tance of CARICOM to his coun­try. He pledged to con­tinue the legacy of for­mer Trinida­dian Prime Min­is­ter, the late Pa­trick Man­ning, whom he de­scribed as “a Caribbean man who was com­mit­ted to ex­cel­lence and to the Caribbean Com­mu­nity. He pointed out that se­cu­rity was cen­tral to the econ­omy, wellbeing, progress and qual­ity of life of the Com­mu­nity.

Chair­man of the Con­fer­ence, the Prime Min­is­ter of Do­minica Hon­ourable Roo­sevelt Sk­er­rit re­minded the au­di­ence that CARICOM was a pri­mary com­mu­nity built on em­pa­thy and car­ing for each other. He said that at the in­di­vid­ual level this is con­tin­u­ously be­ing re­in­forced, when­ever or wher­ever peo­ple in­ter­act.

The Prime Min­is­ter called on all to work to­gether to strengthen co­op­er­a­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion so as to cre­ate a stronger, more vi­brant com­mu­nity. “Let us there­fore fo­cus more closely on what needs to be done to strengthen CARICOM, to make it more eco­nom­i­cally com­pet­i­tive and gen­er­ate re­sources to sus­tain our to­geth­er­ness. Our re­silience is be­ing tested more than be­fore, but we have proven time and again that we are strong”. the Chair­man said. TRIB­UTE TO MR. PA­TRICK MAN­NING

Heads of Gov­ern­ment of the Caribbean Com­mu­nity ex­pressed their deep sad­ness at the pass­ing of the for­mer Prime Min­is­ter of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr Pa­trick Man­ning, who died on Satur­day 2 July 2016 just prior to the Meet­ing of Con­fer­ence. RE­GIONAL SE­CU­RITY

In light of the con­tin­ued threats to the Re­gion’s se­cu­rity, Heads of Gov­ern­ment agreed on ways to deepen and strengthen co-op­er­a­tion in this area. They ap­proved a re­view of the CARICOM Crime and Se­cu­rity Strat­egy (CCSS) and em­pha­sised the im­por­tance of align­ing na­tional se­cu­rity plans to the CCSS to avoid du­pli­ca­tion in in­ter­ven­tion sup­port.

Heads of Gov­ern­ment also stressed the im­por­tant role IMPACS con­tin­ued to play in the Com­mu­nity’s ef­fort to ad­dress crime and se­cu­rity and reaf­firmed their com­mit­ment to strengthen the In­sti­tu­tion.

Heads of Gov­ern­ment agreed that ur­gent steps should be taken for com­ple­tion of a num­ber of crit­i­cal re­gional se­cu­rity agree­ments. They pri­ori­tised the com­ple­tion of the CARICOM Ar­rest War­rant Treaty, an es­sen­tial in­stru­ment to ad­dress cross-bor­der crime. CARICOM SIN­GLE MAR­KET AND ECON­OMY

Heads of Gov­ern­ment re­ceived an up­date on the sta­tus of the CSME and agreed that a com­pre­hen­sive re­view would be con­sid­ered at the In­ter-Ses­sional Meet­ing next Fe­bru­ary. They also agreed that there should be an in­ten­si­fied pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign in Mem­ber States aimed at all lev­els of the so­ci­ety. The ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme should high­light the ben­e­fits and pro­vi­sions of the CSME.

Heads of Gov­ern­ment re­ceived an up­date on the work of the CARICOM Com­mis­sion on the Econ­omy which fo­cussed on fis­cal sus­tain­abil­ity, pri­vate sec­tor stim­u­la­tion, busi­ness reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment, tran­si­tion­ing to sus­tain­able growth and re­source mo­bil­i­sa­tion.

They re­ceived a re­port of the eco­nomic per­for­mance of Mem­ber States in 2015 which showed mixed re­sults. They noted the tech­ni­cal sup­port given by the Caribbean De­vel­op­ment Bank (CDB), Caribbean Ex­port, In­terAmer­i­can De­vel­op­ment Bank (IDB), and the United Na­tions Eco­nomic Com­mis­sion for Latin Amer­ica (UNECLAC) to the work of the Com­mis­sion. FA­CIL­I­TA­TION OF TRAVEL WITHIN THE CARIBBEAN COM­MU­NITY

Heads of Gov­ern­ment noted that the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of trav­el­ling cit­i­zens were mov­ing through­out the Com­mu­nity without hin­drance.

They how­ever urged Mem­ber States to com­ply with the rel­e­vant de­ci­sions taken by the Com­mu­nity and the rul­ings of the Caribbean Court of Jus­tice and take all ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures to give full ef­fect to the free move­ment regimes. They reaf­firmed the prin­ci­ple that per­sons were to be treated with dig­nity at ports of en­try.

The CARICOM Se­cre­tiat was man­dated to con­vene a meet­ing of Chief Im­mi­gra­tion Of­fi­cers, CARICOM Am­bas­sadors and other rev­e­lant of­fi­cials by 30 Septem­ber 2016 in or­der to ad­dress the chal­lenges be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced by Com­mu­nity na­tion­als trav­el­ling through the Re­gion. CORRESPONDENT BANK­ING

Heads of Gov­ern­ment re­viewed the lat­est de­vel­op­ments with re­spect to ef­forts to re­solve the is­sue of de-risk­ing se­verely af­fect­ing Mem­ber States. They em­pha­sised that correspondent bank­ing was an im­por­tant global pub­lic good and the cur­rent de-risk­ing strat­egy was dis­crim­i­na­tory and coun­ter­in­tu­itive to good pub­lic pol­icy. They re-it­er­ated that CARICOM’s trade, eco­nomic wel­fare and the trans­fer of re­mit­tances were gravely af­fected by the de-risk­ing strate­gies of for­eign banks.

They also agreed to host a Global Stake­holder Con­fer­ence on the Im­pact of the With­drawal of Correspondent Bank­ing on the Re­gion which would in­clude banks and reg­u­la­tors from the re­gion, the United States of Amer­ica, Canada and Europe, in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment part­ners and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from civil so­ci­ety. AC­TION PLAN FOR STA­TIS­TICS IN THE CARIBBEAN

Heads of Gov­ern­ment en­dorsed the im­por­tance of sta­tis­tics to the Re­gion’s ef­forts to at­tain sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment, con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment in the stan­dard of liv­ing, em­pow­er­ment of Com­mu­nity na­tion­als, gover­nance, plan­ning and pol­icy mak­ing and progress to­wards the CSME. HEALTH AND DE­VEL­OP­MENT

Heads of Gov­ern­ment ad­dressed health re­lated is­sues af­fect­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the Re­gion, specif­i­cally Non Com­mu­ni­ca­ble Dis­eases (NCDs), the re­gional re­sponse to HIV and AIDS, and the Every Caribbean Girl, Every Caribbean Woman Ini­tia­tive (ECGECW). The ini­tia­tive is in­tended to ad­dress key sex­ual and re­pro­duc­tive health con­cerns of girls and women in the Caribbean; the ob­jec­tives are to re­duce teenage preg­nancy, pre­vent cer­vi­cal can­cer, and elim­i­nate Mother to Child Transmission of HIV.

Heads of Gov­ern­ment noted that progress in fight­ing NCDs was vari­able and agreed to adopt a more holis­tic ap­proach. They pledged to ad­dress is­sues such as ban­ning of smok­ing in pub­lic places. CARICOM AND CUBA

Heads of Gov­ern­ment re­called the Com­mu­nity’s long­stand­ing re­la­tion­ship with Cuba and recog­nised the need to seize the trade, busi­ness and in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing those in tourism, pre­sented by the evolv­ing sit­u­a­tion in Cuba. They ex­pressed sat­is­fac­tion with the on­go­ing nor­mal­i­sa­tion of re­la­tions be­tween Cuba and the United States and took note of the con­se­quent changes in the geopo­lit­i­cal and geoe­co­nomic en­vi­ron­ment of the Re­gion EX­CHANGE OF VIEWS WITH SPE­CIAL GUEST

Heads of Gov­ern­ment wel­comed the visit of Her Ex­cel­lency Pres­i­dent Michelle Bachelet of Chile. They noted the visit sym­bol­ised the re­newal of long­stand­ing po­lit­i­cal and co­op­er­a­tion re­la­tions with a coun­try which has been long sup­port­ive of the Com­mu­nity through its in­sti­tu­tion and ca­pac­ity build­ing projects in a wide di­ver­sity of ar­eas. BREXIT

Heads of Gov­ern­ment viewed Bri­tain’s exit (Brexit) from the Euro­pean Union (EU) as a wa­ter­shed event in in cur­rent world af­fairs whose geopo­lit­i­cal and geo-eco­nomic reper­cus­sions would be far-reach­ing and long-last­ing. They re­ceived a de­tailed brief on the po­lit­i­cal, diplo­matic, trade, eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial im­pli­ca­tions of Brexit for the Re­gion as well as rec­om­men­da­tions for ad­dress­ing them.

Heads of Gov­ern­ment agreed that CARICOM should con­tinue to mon­i­tor de­vel­op­ments as the exit process un­folded and un­der­lined the im­por­tance of a com­mon and struc­tured ap­proach that mar­ried the tech­ni­cal, po­lit­i­cal and diplo­matic. They em­pha­sised that the United King­dom and the Euro­pean Union re­main strong and val­ued part­ners of the Com­mu­nity.

Heads of Gov­ern­ment of CARICOM dis­cussed this week at their con­fer­ence var­i­ous mat­ters that will af­fect cit­i­zens of the Caribbean Com­mu­nity.

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