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CARICOM Heads scheduled for diplomatic engagements during Summit in The Bahamas

CARICOM Heads scheduled for diplomatic engagements during Summit in The Bahamas

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government are set to have talks with several bilateral and multilateral partners as the Community deepens relations regionally and within the global community.

During the 44th Regular Summit of the Conference of Heads of Government scheduled for 15-17 February in Nassau, The Bahamas, Heads will engage with several special guests including the Prime Minister of Canada, The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau; Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; the President and Chairman of the African Export-Import Bank, Prof. Benedict Okey Oramah; and the Executive President of the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), Mr. Sergio Díaz-Granados.

Assistant Secretary-General of the Directorate of Foreign and Community Relations within the CARICOM Secretariat, Ambassador Donna Forde said Canada is a “longstanding bilateral partner” and CARICOM is happy that another opportunity presented itself for an inaugural meeting between the Conference and Prime Trudeau.

They were slated to meet in Barbados in February 2020 during the Thirty-First Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference, but the Foreign Minister of Canada, the Hon. Francois-Phillipe Champagne deputised and set out an agenda for strengthening ties between his country and CARICOM.

In May 2020, Prime Minister Trudeau worked closely with Prime Minister Andrew Holness of Jamaica, as well as the United Nations Secretary-General to advance solutions to the global economic crisis occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic in a global leaders’ forum.

Prime Minister Holness and Prime Minister Trudeau also collaborated in November 2020 for a High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of Covid-19 and Beyond in which they called for assistance to countries that did not have the financial cushion to cope with the economic fall-out from the pandemic.

They jointly advocated for the international community to increase the resources available to the International Monetary Fund, including through a new allocation of Special Drawing Rights and a voluntary reallocation of existing Special Drawing Rights to help teetering economies.

In October 2022, the then Chairman of CARICOM, H. E. Chandrikapersad Santokhi, President of Suriname, and Prime Minister Trudeau held discussions on Haiti. The two leaders had agreed to continue to work together to advance a Haitian-led solution and encourage inclusive political dialogue among Haitian stakeholders. When CARICOM Heads and the Canadian Prime Minister meet in Nassau on February 16, they will continue the discussion on the evolving situation in Haiti.

Concerning the discussion with the head of the WTO, Ambassador Forde said that Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has taken a special interest in Small Island Developing States (SIDs) and is aware of the vulnerabilities [economic, social, environmental] CARICOM countries face.

“She is aware of the need for us to build resilience to the challenges of climate change and all of the struggles that our economies continue to face, and which were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ambassador Forde said, adding, “it would be interesting to hear the message she will bring to CARICOM.”

Africa and the African Union were identified as “important partners” ASG Forde said as she touched on the engagement the CARICOM leaders will have with Prof. Oramah. She recalled the September 2021 CARICOM-Africa Summit in which the leaders committed to strengthening collaboration in trade, investment, and people-to-people contact.

“There should have been a follow-up Summit last year, but due to the intervening challenges from the pandemic, it was difficult to schedule that. We are hoping that the engagement with the President and Chairman of the African Export-Import Bank would signal a further strengthening of our engagements with African Institutions,” Amb. Forde said.

Mr. Sergio Díaz-Granados is meeting with CARICOM Heads of Government as the Development Bank of Latin America seeks to strengthen linkages in CARICOM with a focus on post-COVID reconstruction and building green economies within Latin America and the Caribbean.