CARICOM heads of government begin discussions in Guyana
GEORGETOWN - The plenary sessions of the 37th meeting of the conference of heads of government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) got underway in Georgetown, Guyana, on Tuesday morning.
The heads of government will discuss a wide range of issues, including the CARICOM Single Market and Economy and the free movement of CARICOM nationals, border issues, correspondent banking, cricket and Brexit.
At the opening ceremony, incoming chairman of the CARICOM conference of heads and prime minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, said the conference was an opportunity to seriously consider the effect Britain’s exit from the European Union would have on CARICOM.
Skerrit noted that the region had a long and deep relationship with the United Kingdom and stated that Britain remained one of CARICOM’s most important trade partners.
He reminded those present, particularly those skeptical about CARICOM, that the circumstances of the EU were completely different from those in CARICOM. He explained that the United Kingdom had a historical fear of losing its sovereignty. He said, from the British point of view, nearly every country in Europe had tried to conquer them. He further outlined that EU citizenship not only brought with it free movement but also automatic access to welfare and other benefits.
Skerrit explained that the difference with CARICOM was that it was the fulfillment of a longstanding aspiration of its peoples.
“CARICOM is primarily a community. It has been built with the powerful emotions of empathy and caring for each other,” he said.
He encouraged the region not to resolve to blindly imitate what had happened in Britain, but instead work together to strengthen cooperation and collaboration to create a stronger more vibrant community.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) remains a well respected regional block in the international community.
Prime minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, said during his remarks at the opening ceremony that it was commendable that CARICOM had embarked on a reform process to improve its effectiveness, and stated that it was a step in the right direction. While recognising that a lot had been done by the Community, the Jamaican prime minister said that a lot more could be done and needed to be done.
He told the audience that a Commission to assess the impact of CARICOM on Jamaica, which was the first of its kind, had been established and was being headed by former prime minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding.
Speaking to the matter of regional integration, Holness said it was not an end in itself, but a means to achieve a much broader objective, the economic growth and development of CARICOM countries and the improvement of the lives of its people.