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CARICOM Leaders have restated their call for a lower than 39 per cent reduction in the price paid for sugar imported into Europe from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and have emphasized the need for an extension of the transition period to allow sugar producing countries to adjust to the changes.
The regional Heads including Jamaica’s Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, held their biennium UK-Caribbean meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London on Tuesday (Nov. 22) while en route to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta. At the meeting, they pointed out that the proposed compensation package of forty million euros for the entire ACP group was inadequate.
The future of banana exports to the European Union was also discussed, taking into account the ruling of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on proposed EU tariff levels, which could jeopardize banana exports to that market. The Leaders also expressed concern that with just weeks to go before the WTO Ministerial Round in Hong Kong, developed countries are yet to put forward any proposals in keeping with the mandate of the Doha Development Round.
The CARICOM Heads noted that the Caribbean attached great importance to acceptable outcomes on matters such as agriculture and non-agriculture market access, with emphasis on a number of areas including longstanding preferences, special and differential treatment and a tariff reduction formula. The significance of the outcome of the Small Economies Work Programme was also highlighted.
The link between progress on issues related to trade and development and the ability of the countries of the Caribbean to develop their human capital through education and training was emphasized. Reference was made to the need for a regional development fund that would improve the capacity of the countries of the region to develop their human resource base and exploit the potential of the peoples of the region.
The matter of regional security including how the UK could help the Caribbean especially as the region prepares to the host the 2007 Cricket World Cup was also discussed, with Britain promising to provide assistance with special training for security personnel ahead of the 2007 games.
Other areas for discussion at the UK-Caribbean biennium included concerns relating to climate change and a review of the agenda items for Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Malta.
In addition to Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, other Caribbean Leaders attending the biennium meeting included CARICOM Chairman and Prime Minister of St. Lucia Dr. Kenny Anthony, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Baldwin Spencer, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Dr. Denzil Douglas and Prime Minister Perry Christie of the Bahamas.