Published On: Tue, May 14th, 2013

CARICOM must be prepared to face shifting global priorities – SG

CaricomCARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen Greater Georgetown, GuyanaThe Caribbean Community (CARICOM) must remain alert, proactive and responsive as it confronts the shifting priorities of the world’s dominant players, including its traditional partners.

So said CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, as he addressed the opening session of the 16th meeting of CARICOM’s Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) at the Trinidad Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre, Port of Spain, on Monday night. The Council’s two day working sessions began on Tuesday morning.

Noting that the Community was celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year, he said despite its remarkable achievements and milestones to date, CARICOM “is well aware that it is also evolving and the landscape in which we operate has changed, requiring a new modus operandi.”

Ambassador LaRocque said survival in the current global environment demanded a commonality of ambition and vision, as well as a deep level of coordination to ensure the strategic positioning of the Community in the hemispheric and global arena.  “Such foreign policy coordination is one of the four pillars on which this Community rests and an important weapon in the diplomatic arsenal of our Member States,” he added

“The Community’s track record of a coordinated approach to foreign policy issues and of speaking with one voice continues to earn the attention of the international community.  As a consequence, we are witnessing the increased interest of Third States in the Community to a large extent because of our cohesion as a regional grouping,” the Secretary-General said.

The Secretary-General said the slow recovery from the financial and economic crisis, as well as the added burden of graduation, and its close relative differentiation, and their resulting decrease in access to concessionary financing; the deleterious effects of climate change and the lack of adequate access to mitigation and adaptation financing; the continued challenges to citizen security, had all challenged forty years of socio-economic development as a Caribbean Community.

CARICOM ‘s response to these economic and financial challenges were beginning to bear fruit, he said, indicating that after substantial lobbying in international for a such as the G8 and the G20 and international financial institutions some progress had been made.  “The IMF, for example, has started paying greater attention to the special macroeconomic issues facing Small States and their implications for Fund engagement, the Secretary-General pointed out.

Ambassador LaRocque counselled that continuing to foster good relations with our International Development Partners was also essential.  He said, CARICOM had been well served by the on-going relations with its traditional partners, both bilateral and multilateral.

“However, it is well understood that at this time when the Community is intensifying its efforts at meeting sustainable development goals, international development resources for the Region are becoming less easy to access and the continuing financial crisis compounds the situation.  It is therefore critical that efforts continue to be made to both deepen and broaden existing ties and to develop new relations beyond the traditional spheres,” he added.

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