COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE FIFTH UK-CARIBBEAN FORUM, 26-28 APRIL 2006, BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS
Posted in: Communiques by admin | 28 April 2006 | Release Ref #: 76/2006 | 4027
1. The Fifth UK-Caribbean Forum, hosted by the Government of Barbados, took place in Bridgetown on 26-28 April 2006. The Forum was co-chaired on the Caribbean side by the Hon. Elvin Nimrod, MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Grenada and current Chair of the CARICOM Council for Foreign and Community Relations, and on the UK side by the Rt. Hon. Jack Straw, MP, Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
2. Foreign Ministers from Antigua and Barbuda; The Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica; Saint Lucia; and Trinidad and Tobago also participated. The Honourable Jerrol Thompson Minister of Telecommunications, Science and Technology represented St Vincent and the Grenadines while Her Excellency Manorma Soeknandan represented Suriname. The United Kingdom was also represented by Lord Triesman, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with responsibility for the Caribbean; the Rt Honourable Baroness Amos, Leader of the House of Lords; the Rt Honourable Baroness Scotland, Minister of State at the Home Office and Gareth Thomas MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for International Development. The CARICOM Council of Ministers responsible for National Security and Law Enforcement was represented by the chairman, Senator the Honourable Martin Joseph, Minister of National Security of Trinidad and Tobago; the Chairman of the Ministerial sub-committee responsible for Resource Mobilisation and Implementation, Dr the Honourable Peter Phillips, Minister of National Security of Jamaica; and the Chair of the ad hoc Ministerial sub-committee for Security Issues for Cricket World Cup 2007, Honourable Mia Mottley, Deputy Prime Minister of Barbados. The Honourable Dale Marshall, Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs of Barbados also attended. Suriname was represented at the Ambassadorial level. The British Virgin Islands was a Participatory Observer.
3. Opening Remarks were made by the Prime Minister of Barbados, the Rt. Hon Owen S. Arthur, by Hon Elvin Nimrod, on behalf of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations and by Lord Triesman, on behalf of the UK .
4. Ministers emphasized the value of the Forum in promoting and strengthening the unique ties that exist between the UK and the Caribbean Community. Under the theme “Partnerships for Promoting and Sustaining Caribbean Development” the Forum focused on strategies to achieve medium and long-term development for the Caribbean as well as security issues, including those related to preparations for the Cricket World Cup in 2007. In addition to the Open Sessions, Ministers met in Retreat and held frank, cordial discussions on a range of issues. In this regard, they agreed on priority actions which should be implemented for review at the next Forum. During the informal sessions, Ministers drew up a list of actions which they agreed to put into effect before the next UK-Caribbean Forum. The List is at Annex A.
MEDIUM AND LONG TERM ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
5. Ministers affirmed the longstanding development partnership and confirmed their commitment to achieving medium and long-term sustainable economic growth for the whole Region, while pursuing economic and social policies that protect the most vulnerable members of society. Ministers agreed to undertake concrete action to improve the capacity of the public sector to provide affordable and efficient services to their populations. Ministers agreed that tackling public debt and strengthening public financial management systems were priority actions in this regard. Ministers acknowledged that achieving this commitment would not be easy. 6. Ministers acknowledged the important role that the Diaspora can play in the economic and social development of the Caribbean and noted the efforts of the Caribbean Governments to engage the Diaspora fully towards this end.
7. Ministers recognized the important role of trade in UK-Caribbean relations and the need to facilitate continued meaningful market access to the European Union, in particular the traditional market of the UK for Caribbean exports and the export of non-traditional goods and services to the UK and EU markets.
8. Ministers emphasized the importance of the CARIFORUM/EC EPA negotiations as a vehicle for achieving sustainable economic growth for the Region. They noted that Phase 3 of the negotiations had commenced in February 2006. The Ministers acknowledged that the development dimension is a central element of the EPA negotiations.
9. Ministers agreed that the erosion of EU preferential treatment has made it necessary to accelerate either the reform of existing agricultural processes or the diversification into new sectors or both.
10. With regard to sugar, Ministers welcomed submission of the National Adaptation Strategies and urged countries which have not already done so to submit their strategy documents as soon as possible. Ministers agreed that they would continue to lobby in Europe for adequate amounts of EU transitional funding, (the Accompanying Measures) and for it to be frontloaded and disbursed promptly so that the adjustment plans can be implemented before the end of the phase-in period.
11. Ministers also confirmed their commitment to seeking increased access to the European market for sugar as a means of ameliorating the price reduction. CARICOM will press for any Caribbean Sugar Protocol shortfalls to be retained within CARICOM.
12. Mindful of the critical importance of the banana industry to the banana-exporting countries of the Caribbean, Ministers agreed to support the continuing efforts being made to ensure the sustainability of the industry, and agreed to continue to collaborate in representations to the European Commission for the accelerated release of European funds, intended to support the management of preference erosion. They urged that the new EU banana tariff not be subjected to further downward revision, and that the EU bind such a tariff as soon as possible.
13. Ministers recognised the importance of the rice industry in the Region, with regard to employment in both the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, as well as food security for the Region, and emphasized the need for continued assistance to enhance the international competitiveness of the industry.
14. In reviewing the status of the Doha Development Agenda, Ministers reaffirmed that the principles enunciated in the Valetta Statement on Multilateral Trade, adopted at the Malta Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, needed to be fully incorporated in the ongoing WTO negotiations. They noted that the results of the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting recognised some of these principles, especially as they related to small vulnerable economies, but that much remained to be done. They agreed to support efforts in accordance with the Doha and Hong Kong Ministerial Declarations aimed at the adoption of meaningful and concrete measures to facilitate the full integration of small, vulnerable economies into the international trading system. They reiterated their commitment to seek a successful outcome, within the established timetable, in which the development dimension is fully integrated.
The CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME)
15. Ministers welcomed the launch in January 2006 of the CARICOM Single Market (CSM), recognising it as a historic step towards the realization of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy by 2008 which is essential for the sustainable development of the Region in an increasingly globalised world. They looked forward to full participation in the CSM by the end of June 2006.
16. Ministers stressed the importance of early activation of the Regional Development Fund (RDF) to the achievement of the objectives of the CSME, and urged that all development partners give positive consideration to contributing to it.
17. Ministers recognised the urgent need for continued improvements in the investment climate, including in the overall regulatory framework, in order to attract greater levels of both domestic and foreign investment. They also emphasized that investment in human resources was a key to attracting investment. They welcomed the British Prime Minister’s initiative to hold an investment event in London in November 2006 with the objective of showcasing the Caribbean to potential investors.
18. Ministers congratulated the Caribbean British Business Council (CBBC) and the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC) on the First UK-Caribbean Business Forum, held in London in June 2005. They welcomed the decision to make the Business Forum a biennial event, and looked forward to the next event in the Caribbean in 2007. In this context, they welcomed the convening of a UK-Caribbean Business Encounter in the margins of the Forum.
19. CARICOM Ministers noted the ongoing efforts by CARICOM countries to restructure their economies in order to make them more competitive an in this regard, the integral role played by Research and Development. They further emphasized the need to continue and strengthen collaboration in this area.
20. Ministers agreed that the work of the OECD’s Global Forum on Harmful Tax Practices showed that progress had already been made towards a global level playing field in the areas of transparency and effective exchange of information in tax matters. In this context, they looked forward to the publication of the Level Playing Field Report, which would provide a factual assessment of where the OECD and non-OECD jurisdictions are in relation to the OECD standards for transparency and information exchange. It was important that all jurisdictions pursued the necessary actions to achieve and then maintain a level playing field. Ministers noted that certain Caribbean jurisdictions would require technical assistance for the implementation of some aspects of the OECD’s initiative.
21. Ministers recognised the vital importance of the tourist industry to the further economic development of the Caribbean. They undertook to carry out a number of specific actions aimed at expanding the tourist industry in the Region, and ensuring that an increasing percentage of earnings from tourism remained in the Region. They welcomed the first steps which had been taken to develop a Regional Tourism Investment Fund (RTIF), and agreed to continue to support this initiative. Ministers agreed on the importance of using the staging of the 2007 Cricket World Cup (CWC) in the Region to showcase the Caribbean as a destination, not one just offering traditional attractions, but one offering a diversified tourism product. Ministers welcomed the work which the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) were doing to promote tourism on a regional basis, and urged them to continue to develop this approach.
Climate Change and Disaster Management
22. Ministers recognised the challenges faced as a result of climate change and extreme weather events which may be exacerbated by global warming, and noted the devastation to the Region caused by hurricanes in 2004 and 2005, with Hurricane Ivan having the most significant impact. They agreed on the need for further regional preparedness planning and welcomed the work being done by Governments in the Region and by the World Bank, at the request of the Caribbean, on a Catastrophic Risk Insurance Scheme. They also agreed on the need for continued support to further strengthen regional preparedness and planning and welcomed the work done by the Region. Ministers welcomed the outcome of the Montreal Conference on Climate Change, at which all countries agreed to explore the basis for future action under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the World Conference on Disaster Reduction and its Plan of Action in support of building Resilient Communities.
23. Ministers discussed the challenges the Region faced in relations to energy supply, not least in the face of ongoing rises in the price of oil. They agreed on the need to develop a long term strategy to secure energy supplies from a mix of sources and, in this respect, agreed to pursue a technical exchange between both sides as a matter of urgency: and to pursue further public, private and academic cooperation and collaboration between the European and the Region with regard to the development of alternative sources of energy
Health and HIV/AIDS
24. Ministers noted, with deep concern, the profound, deleterious effect which the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic is having on the economic growth and social development of the Caribbean as a whole. Ministers agreed on the need to continue efforts to stem the spread of the disease, to tackle stigma and discrimination, and to focus action on the more effective use of resources available. Ministers also agreed to continue to collaborate on facilitating this and efforts towards achieving universal access.
CARICOM-UK Regional Security Cooperation Plan
25. At the last Forum in May 2004, Ministers underlined the significance of effective cooperation between the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Caribbean on law and enforcement, and reform of the security sector, and decided to draw up a Framework for Security Cooperation. This resulted in the adoption, in October 2004, of the CARICOM-UK Security Cooperation Plan, focusing on four strategic priority areas – border security, regional maritime cooperation, establishment of a regional information and intelligence sharing network, and training of security and law enforcement officials. A Joint Management Committee (JMC) was established, comprising representatives from the UK and CARICOM Member States with responsibility for monitoring and evaluating the implementation process. The Ministers noted that subsequently CARICOM agreed to the establishment of an institutionalised framework for the management of crime and security issues in the Region. This includes an Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) to ensure the effective implementation of these and other security measures
26. Ministers endorsed the Report of the JMC, reaffirmed their full support for the activities covered by it and acknowledged that in spite of early challenges, the activation of the new Framework for the Management of Crime and Security in the Region has accelerated the pace of implementation in the four priority areas under the co-operation plan. The Ministers noted that the particular progress is being made in human resource development and leadership for the CARICOM security and law enforcement community, acknowledged the steps taken in maritime co-operation and reaffirmed the aim of complete adherence to the Regional Maritime (Aruba) Agreement. In intelligence co-operation, Ministers further noted that the elements of an effective regional system were coming into place and co-operation with external partners was being enhanced. Once the technical capabilities for sharing were completed, it is expected that enforcement agencies would make the fullest operational use of the systems.
27. Ministers expressed their deep concern over the illegal trade and availability of small arms and light weapons (SALW) in the Region which contribute to the increasing level of armed violence and undermine stability, security and development. They stressed the connection between drug trafficking, illegal trade in small arms and organised crime and the need to work on a regional SALW Plan. Ministers also recognized the importance of global guidelines on SALW transfers and called on the international community to work together to develop international norms on the transfer of SALW in the context of the UN Programme of Action. Ministers also added their voice to the calls for work to commence at the United Nations on a treaty on the trade in all conventional arms.
28. On Border Security, Ministers emphasized the importance of control of land, as well as maritime borders. With regard to the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy, both sides reaffirmed their unequivocal support for the maintenance of Guyana’s territorial integrity, including its unrestricted right to the development of the entirety of its territory for the benefit of its people. They expressed satisfaction at the cordiality which had characterized relations between Guyana and Venezuela in recent years, and recognised the instrumental role of dialogue at the highest levels in facilitating the commitment to a peaceful settlement of the controversy under the aegis of the UN Good Offices Process, and to enhancing cooperation at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.
29. The Ministers noted a report from Belize in relation to the ongoing process to reach a just, equitable and permanent solution to Guatemala’s territorial claim to Belize within the framework of the Organisation of American States (OAS). They emphasized that the international community remained fully supportive of the OAS process between Belize and Guatemala in accordance with the Framework for Negotiations and Confidence Building Measures of 7 September 2005, under which they will attempt in good faith to resolve the dispute by negotiations, and should this not be possible provided a mechanism to allow recourse to an international judicial body for final resolution. Ministers expressed the hope that this mechanism will ensure that the dispute is finally settled within a reasonable time. They recalled and reaffirmed the strong support of the Commonwealth Heads of Government (Malta 2005) and CARICOM Heads of Government (Saint Lucia, July 2005) for the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Belize.
Preparations For Cricket World Cup 2007
30. Ministers agreed that Cricket World Cup (CWC 2007) preparations meshed closely with and are contributing to the emerging collective security capability of the Region as is being promoted under the CARICOM/UK Security Cooperation Plan. For an event of this scale regional coordination is essential to ensure that security is in no way compromised by facilitating quick and easy movement of a large volume of persons and goods across the Region. Ministers welcomed the steps already taken including the CARICOM political leadership provided by the establishment of the Ad Hoc Ministerial Sub Committee for Security Issues pertaining to CWC 2007 and the identification of CWC 2007 security coordination as a priority activity for the Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS)
31. The UK agreed to support CARICOM in the roll-out of its common visa arrangements for the period of the CWC 2007 and to address urgently the question of assisting in the issuance of such visas in countries where CARICOM is not represented. The UK would facilitate intelligence links with South Asian and the other international intelligence agencies and would examine the possibility of providing operational support for disaster preparedness. CARICOM would provide the UK with updated versions of its regional threat assessment as the basis for such intervention.
32. Ministers welcomed the strong links between the UK Parliament and Caribbean Parliaments. They expressed satisfaction that representatives of the UK Parliament were present at the Forum and had the opportunity to exchange views with their counterparts from the Caribbean.
33. Caribbean Ministers welcomed the UK’s offer to host the next UK-Caribbean Forum in 2008.
34. Ministers expressed their appreciation to the Government and People of Barbados for the excellent arrangements made for the hosting of this, their Fifth Forum.
28 April 2006
FIFTH UK-CARIBBEAN MINISTERIAL FORUM BRIDGETOWN, 26-28 APRIL 2006
LIST OF ACTIONS/INITIATIVES AGREED BY BOTH SIDES
1. The UK to continue to lobby the European Commission, European Parliament and other Member States for adequate and frontloaded and promptly disbursed transitional assistance for Caribbean Sugar Protocol countries.
2. The UK to collaborate with the region in representations to the EC for the accelerated release of European funds committed to support the management of the EU banana market preference erosion.
3. The UK is committed to helping the Caribbean countries share in the benefits of international trade and investment. To help meet this aim, the UK will organize a Caribbean investment event in London in 2006. The UK Government will also support a number of business visits to the region during financial year 2006/07.
4. The UK to continue to develop joint solutions and provide assistance to the region as set out in the four priority areas of CARICOM-UK Security Cooperation Plan, including promoting assistance by the EU and supporting further development of the CIMA model once the Director is in post.
5. The UK to entertain specific requests for assistance in relation to the security preparation and planning for Cricket World Cup 2007, in particular in the fields of immigration and visa issuing, intelligence sharing, disaster preparedness and law enforcement training, including through the deployment of experts.
6. Through the Department for International Development (DFID) and its engagement with other development partners, the UK will continue to support the Caribbean’s efforts at reducing poverty and vulnerability to shocks and natural disasters including through capacity enhancement in key areas.
7. The UK’s sustainable Development Fund to continue to target the Caribbean as a priority region.
8. The UK to continue to support the setting up of a Caribbean Regional Tourism Investment Fund.
9. The UK to continue to extend the benefits of the Chevening Fellowship Programme to the Caribbean through eligibility of its nationals for scholarships and fellowships.
10. The UK will use its best endeavours to identify persons experienced in legal drafting.
1. CARICOM to continue to lobby the European Commission, European Parliament, and other Member States for adequate and frontloaded and promptly disbursed transitional assistance for Caribbean Sugar Protocol countries.
2. The Caribbean to pursue its objective to press for any Caribbean Sugar Protocol shortfalls to be retained within CARICOM.
3. The Caribbean to collaborate with the UK in representations to the EC for the accelerated release of European funds committed to support the management of the EU banana market preference erosion.
4. CARICOM to continue to take action towards the full implementation of the CSME by 2008.
5. CARICOM to continue to implement policies that contribute to disaster risk reduction and mitigate the impact of natural disasters in the region.
6. CARICOM to work with British diplomatic missions in the Region to identify candidates for the Chevening Fellowship Programme.
7. CARICOM to continue the implementation process in accordance with the CARICOM-UK Security Cooperation Plan.
8. CARICOM to identify specific requirements for assistance in the continuing planning and preparation for CWC 2007.
9. CARICOM will nominate an individual to liaise with the British re energy security.