Progress made on CSME, but implementation plan needs to be accelerated – CARICOM SG

─ 40th Regular Meeting of CARICOM Heads begins in Saint Lucia

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, July 3, 2019

More rapid implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), was among the main matters highlighted this evening, as the 40th Regular Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government officially opened in Saint Lucia.

“We have persevered and made progress, but we are lagging behind,” announced Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque as he made opening remarks.

He said the resilience that the region seeks to build extends to our economy and must be built upon the foundation provided by the CSME. However, he noted this course of action was lagging behind the deadlines agreed to in the implementation plan.

“It is in our interest to accelerate this process and to create a competitive regional economy,” he said

The CARICOM Secretary-General said leaders have been engaged in a challenging task of creating one market out of 12 developing economies, each of which he observed was at different levels of development.

In this regard, he announced that CARICOM has brought on board the private sector, labour and civil society representative, who will engage with Heads of Government at this week’s meeting.

SG LaRocque was also quick to point out that the youth of the community continue to express their interest in the advancement of the CSME “as they told me on Monday during a live forum”. These were the stakeholders, he noted, that were the beneficiaries of the CSME and therefore have a major stake in its implementation.

The CARICOM Secretary-General, in his opening remarks, also acknowledged Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, for her presence and her country’s continued support of the region, especially in the area of climate change. “Prime Minister Solberg, in coming to the region, you have underlined your commitment to strengthening relations with our community.”

United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, also a Special Guest Speaker at the Opening Ceremony, was also acknowledged for showing an abiding interest in the welfare of the region. “I recall your visit to our affected countries following the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, and your ready acceptance of my invitation to personally participate in the CARICOM/UN High-Level Pledging Conference, which was hosted by the UN. Further, the UNDP has been working with the CARICOM Secretariat and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) to craft a proposal to build capacity in our region to realise our goal of climate and disaster resilience,” LaRocque said.

The 40th Regular Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government is the first for Guyana’s Minister Karen Cummings who, in May this year, was reassigned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Among the matters to be discussed in the next two days by the heads are; CSME implementation, regional security, economic development and international relations matters.

Incoming CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet of Saint Lucia also addressed the conference, as well as outgoing Chairman, Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris of St. Kitts and Nevis and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.