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 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.