Leaders committed to CARICOM
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders began their 33rd annual summit today bemoaning their failure to implement agreements reached in the past and worried over the continued impact the global economic and financial crisis is having on their respective countries.
In addition, the opening ceremony provided an opportunity for the leaders to again reiterate their commitment to the regional integration movement, underscoring the fact that without CARICCOM, such an organisation would have to be invented.
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller used the occasion to dispel reports that Kingston was contemplating leaving the 15-nation bloc amid concerns that it was being unfairly treated, particular in its trading relations with Trinidad and Tobago.
“I want to underscore Jamaica’s commitment to regionalism as a core principle of our foreign policy and external trade policy.
“Jamaica will continue to publicly reiterate the importance of regional integration movement to the attainment of our national development goals and for the advancement of our region as a whole,” she said, acknowledging nonetheless that “the regional concept remains a work in process”.
She told her regional colleagues that if CARICOM was not around “it would have to be invented” adding that it was now important to bring the general population into the whole CARICOM movement.
She also urged that CARICOM consider allowing all categories of workers move freely across the region under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Host Prime Minister and incoming CARICOM Chairman, Dr Kenny Anthony, said despite the many challenges facing the regional integration at the moment “our people need not feel folorn” adding at the same time, the region cannot afford its citizens “ to grow cynical and quip a defeatist “c’est la vie in the causality of perception”
He told the opening ceremony that a day had been set aside during the three-day summit for the leaders to meet in caucus for “frank discourse” on CARICOM.
“We need to talk with each other. I have therefore arranged our agenda to devote an entire day to a caucus of heads, initially alone, and later with our officials. I believe we must take time to share our hopes, dreams and aspirations for our beloved though enigmatic region.
“We must start again by re-establishing the political chemistry that bound us together. We need to re-affirm our common future, our common faith,” he said, adding “we cannot afford to leave the winds of progress uncaught when they blow.
“The gales and harmattans of global politics and economics mean that we must be willing to venture through waters unchartered. We must be enterprising, yet perspective and willing to put into our common cloud the store of knowledge and expertise held throughout our states,” he said.