CARICOM Heads urged to advance Regional integration

Georgetown, GINA, July 4, 2016

The 37th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) commenced today with an opening ceremony at the Guyana National Cultural Centre.

In opening remarks, CARICOM’s Secretary General, Ambassador Irwin La Rocque, said integration has allowed member states to achieve a level of development that the  people desire and deserve. “We have ample evidence over the four decades, of the value of pooling our skills and resources,” LaRocque said.

Caricom Heads of Government gathered at the National Cultural Centre in Georgetown for the 37th Regular Meeting of the Conference

Caricom Heads of Government gathered at the National Cultural Centre in Georgetown for the 37th Regular Meeting of the Conference

He pointed out that over the next two days, the Conference will focus on addressing issues which have an impact on the community, both from within and outside of the Region.

“In so doing, we will discuss what possible actions can be taken collectively, to improve the lives of all our citizens. For example, we will address the issue of crime and security and how we can improve the regional framework and collaboration in fighting this growing menace to our safety and development,” La Rocque outlined.

Other issues which will be discussed include, correspondent banking and de-risking being practiced by international banks, strengthening of CARICOM-Cuba relations, the border relations between Guyana and Venezuela and Belize and Guatemala, and the ongoing Haiti-Dominican Republic matter which has left  large numbers of Dominican Republic nationals of Haitian ancestry stateless. The status and advancing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) will also be addressed.

The Heads are scheduled to meet with the President of Chile, Michelle Bachlete as the two sides seek to strengthen areas of common interest including disaster preparedness and climate change.

The Conference will also discuss the possible implications of United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union on the Caribbean.

CARICOM incoming Chairman, Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, delivering remarks at today’s opening ceremony, said it is with a degree of conviction that CARICOM is on the right track and a degree of optimism for the future that he assumes his role as chairman.

“I take the chair of CARICOM at a time when the world is still in a state of shock at Britain’s decision to leave the EU after 43 years of membership…at a time when the rest of the world is moving towards regional integration in order to carve out an economic space in the global market place,” Skerrit said.

A section of those gathered for the opening ceremony of the 37th Regular meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government

A section of those gathered for the opening ceremony of the 37th Regular meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government

He pointed out that the Conference gives Leaders the opportunity to examine the serious effects Britain’s exit will have on CARICOM and to demonstrate real leadership by showing the way forward.

Prime Minister Skerrit opined that as efforts are made to advance the interest of the community over the next two days, several imperatives should be looked at.

“I recall that at another forum I identified several imperatives for us to be successful; a singular market space connected by efficient and cost effective transportation; a vibrant private sector promoting the development of an investor class, attractive investment opportunities; more productive regional integrative labour market and view of skills needed; an efficient regionally integrated capital market; solutions to problems relating to energy that powers economic activity; and building resource competence and capabilities that make innovation possible,” Skerrit outlined

He charged that as the conference progresses, whatever powers are available should be used towards speedy, effective implementation of measures creating stumbling blocks to regional integration.

Present at the opening was Commonwealth Secretary General, Baroness Scotland, members of the diplomatic corps and senior government officials.

Recently elected and re-elected Heads of Government were given the opportunity to deliver remarks at the opening ceremony.

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