CARICOM Heads meet in Jamaica, priorities for next five years discussed


GEORGETOWN, Guyana (GINA) — Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo joined 10 of 14 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government at Sunday’s meeting of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on External Negotiations, which discussed matters pertaining to the Community Secretariat’s Strategic Plan for 2009-2015 with a view to determining its priorities over the next five years.

The hours-long meeting was held moments before the Grand Gala opening of the thirty-first meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

The Summit’s agenda was set by the Twenty-Sixth Meeting of the Community Council on July 3. Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and Director General in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Guyana’s Ambassador to CARICOM, Elisabeth Harper represented Guyana at Saturday’s meeting.

The Council considered other matters within four sectoral clusters: Legal Affairs, Human and Social Development, Foreign and Community Relations, and Trade and Economic Development.

The Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on External Trade Negotiations discussed the status of the negotiations of the CARICOM-Canada Trade and Development Agreement, which is about to enter its third round. Exploratory talks between senior trade officials of CARICOM and Canada began formally in November 2009 with CARICOM putting forward its interest in a strong development component, as a distinct chapter of the agreement. The Second Round of Negotiations was held late March 2010 in Barbados.

Sunday’s Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee meeting also considered matters related to the implementation of the Caribbean Forum of African Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM)-European Community (EC) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed in October 2008, and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Doha Round. The Committee Members also exchanged views on the implications of CARICOM’s continued participation in Free Trade Negotiations in the context of the economic crisis.

The region is also expected to reaffirm its commitment to the development of Haiti and to the restoration of all international diplomatic ties with Cuba.

Earlier in the day, Former Prime Minister of Jamaica P.J Patterson introduced the newly formed Ramphal Commission on Migration and Development, established earlier in the year. The commission will advise Commonwealth governments and agencies on how they may adopt mutually beneficial and practical policies to maximize the benefits of international migration.

The Commission’s special concern is with migration and development, while taking into account the other impacts that migration can have. Commissioners aim to transform the way migration is viewed and treated within the Commonwealth and, ultimately, to improve the lives of people across the Commonwealth countries and beyond. Patterson’s role in Montego Bay is to brief regional heads of the implications and benefits of migration in the region and how the grouping can use this phenomenon to its advantage.

The leaders of Grenada, Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Dominica, Haiti, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and host prime minister Bruce Golding will attend the July 4-7 summit which is the supreme Organ of the Community and determines and provides policy direction for the Community.

Prime Minister of Barbados David Thompson announced on Thursday that he was proceeding on two months extended medical leave, while Suriname, which recently came out of general elections, is yet to choose a president and therefore, will not be represented by a government leader.



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