JIS News

The Tenth Special Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community was held in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on 8-9 November 2004. The meeting was chaired by Dr. the Rt. Hon. Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, and Chairman of the Conference.
Other Heads of Government in attendance were: The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Hon Baldwin Spencer; the Prime Minister of Barbados, the Rt. Hon. Owen Arthur; the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit; the President of Guyana, His Excellency Bharrat Jagdeo; the Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Hon. P.J. Patterson; the Chief Minister of Montserrat, Dr. the Hon. John Osborne; the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Dr. the Hon. Kenny D. Anthony; the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves; the President of Suriname, His Excellency Drs. Runaldo R. Venetiaan; and the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Hon. Patrick Manning.
The Bahamas was represented by Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs while Hon. Godfrey Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs, represented Belize. Hon Timothy Harris, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade represented St Kitts and Nevis.
Opening Remarks
Opening remarks were delivered by Hon. Patrick Manning, Prime Minister of the host country Trinidad and Tobago and the Chairman of The Conference, Dr. the Rt. Hon. Keith Mitchell. Remarks were also made by the Deputy Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community Secretariat, Ambassador Lolita Applewhaite.
In his remarks, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago asserted that his country has been consistent in the pursuit and support of regional development. He said that Trinidad and Tobago had introduced and shouldered many initiatives, based on their importance and the difficulty which fellow Member States would face in treating with the issues they were designed to address.
He added that the Region faced many challenges and Member States have sought to respond appropriately and at every level. He cited as examples the establishment of a Task Force on Crime, and the Region’s response to Member States in the face of the devastation in the 2004 hurricane season.
Prime Minister Manning added that Trinidad and Tobago had heightened the implementation of policies that will make the CARICOM economy stronger and reduce the Region’s vulnerability to the international economic environment. He cited the launching of the CARICOM Trade Support Programme which is intended to support and strengthen the Region’s private sector, by providing assistance to firms, so as to enable them to improve their competitiveness and export capability. This, the Prime Minister said, is part of the strategy to make businesses in the Region CSME-ready on a timely basis.
In delivering the keynote address, Chairman of the Caribbean Community and Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. the Rt. Honourable Keith Mitchell said that the Region must recommit and work towards meeting the deadlines for the full implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.
He drew attention to the devastation to Grenada by Hurricane Ivan, adding that the ravages brought on by the storm had reaffirmed his conviction that the Region needed the Regional Development Fund as established in the Treaty. He added that had the Fund been in place, it would have triggered an automatic response at the Community level to the immediate needs of Member States following the passage of the hurricane.
The CARICOM Chairman added that in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, Grenada had benefited from one of the pillars of the CSME-the Free Movement of Skilled Nationals. He added that Grenadians were deeply committed to being involved in this arrangement.
Prime Minister Mitchell stressed that there are lessons to be learned from the 2004 hurricane season and that the Community must have detailed and well-articulated disaster management systems in place. He added that the Region would not develop if hard-earned economic growth and development were repeatedly set back by natural disasters.
Deputy Secretary-General Ambassador Lolita Applewhaite emphasised that the meeting was taking place at a critical time in the Community’s history and with a focus on a fuller implementation of the CSME.
She noted that the Conference, when it decided to meet in Special Session to focus on the CSME implementation, was conscious that regional and world developments continue to show that a Single Market and Economy is the best option to equip CARICOM Members States to face the onslaught of globalisation, and at the same time address the expectations of CARICOM nationals. She added that the Region cannot falter in the pursuit of its goal, but would have to act as if lives depended on it, because they do. The CARICOM Single Market and Economy
Heads of Government focussed their attention on the development of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, taking stock of what had been achieved towards its full establishment and addressing outstanding elements critical to its fulfillment. In their consideration, they were joined by representatives of the Caribbean Development Bank, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the Private Sector and the Caribbean Congress of Labour.
Heads of Government issued a statement reflecting the deliberations and decisions on the CSME. The Statement is attached.
The Petroleum Stabilisation Fund
Heads of Government saluted the establishment of a Petroleum Stabilisation Fund by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago on behalf of CARICOM Member States to support poverty reduction initiatives in the Region.
Issues of Governance
Heads of Government agreed that the Prime Ministerial Expert Group on Governance would meet in January 2005 to consider recommendations from the three technical working groups; (a) enhancing the functioning of the Assembly of Caribbean Community Parliamentarians; (b) the establishment of a CARICOM Commission or other Executive Mechanism; and (c) Automaticity of financing of regional institutions. It would also consider the relevant issues arising out of the Think Tank on Governance held in Trinidad and Tobago, February 2004, as well as comments from civil society.
The recommendations from this process will be considered by Heads of Government at their Inter-Sessional Meeting, in Suriname, in February 2005.
Update on the Region’s response to Regional Hurricane Disasters
Heads of Government considered a report from the Prime Minister of Grenada and from the representatives of other Member States affected by the passage of recent hurricanes. They also received reports from the CARICOM Secretariat, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency, the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre on the Region’s response to the destruction caused by the hurricanes on these states, as well as on action which will be required of Member States in order to mitigate the level of damage associated with natural disasters which can affect the Region. These disasters served to re-emphasise the very vulnerable nature of Small Island Developing States and the urgent need to build resilience. The Grenadian situation, in particular, highlighted the complexity posed when a severe event impacts a vulnerable situation, resulting in devastation not only of structures but also of the very fabric of daily existence including governance, security and civil society systems.
Heads agreed that it was clear that a comprehensive approach to disaster management which links development planning and risk reduction initiatives was needed.
They reiterated their commitment to seeking the agreement of the donor community that assistance to Grenada be in the nature of grants and aid and not loans. They also reiterated their call for a donor conference on Grenada as the resources for the reconstruction of Grenada are beyond the means of the Member States.
Heads welcomed the outcome of the first Donors Meeting coordinated by the World Bank and held in Washington, D.C., on 4 October 2004 at which the OECS-ECLAC Study: “Grenada: Macro-Socio-Economic Assessment of the Damages caused by Hurricane Ivan” was presented and initial emergency response pledges confirmed. They looked forward to the follow-up meeting which will be held in Grenada on 19 November when it is anticipated that Donors will confirm additional contributions and receive information on the structure and functions of the Agency for Reconstruction and Development (ARD) established by the Government of Grenada to manage the reconstruction and recovery process.
They agreed to examine the possibilities of providing scholarships to Grenadians working in the tourism and hospitality industry, as well as short-term employment, and welcomed the fact that the Caribbean Hotel Association had already initiated efforts in this regard.
Heads of Government noted the establishment of a CARICOM-Grenada Unit to support reconstruction and recovery in Grenada.
The International Meeting to review the Barbados Programme of Action, Mauritius
Noting that this was the final opportunity for discussion as a group, prior to the convening on 10-14 January 2005 of the International Meeting to review the Barbados Programme of Action for Small Island (and Low-Lying) Developing States, Heads of Government received with appreciation, a status report on the Region’s ongoing preparations for this important Conference.
Heads of Government agreed that the International Meeting presented a critical opportunity for the Region to highlight the initiatives taken to implement the 1994 Barbados Programme of Action and the Region’s continuing economic, social and environmental vulnerabilities. Heads of Government agreed that the opportunity presented by the Mauritius Meeting should be used to engage the Region’s partners in a collaborative effort to assist in strengthening the resilience of Member States to these numerous vulnerabilities.
Heads of Government also noted with satisfaction that in addition to the Lead Head of Government for Sustainable Development, Hon. Said Musa, Prime Minister of Belize, Rt. Hon. Owen Arthur, Prime Minister of Barbados would also represent the Region at the International Meeting. They urged all other Member States to make every effort to be represented at the highest possible level.
The World Conference on Disaster Reduction
Heads of Government noted the Region’s preparations for the World Conference on Disaster Reduction which is to be held in Kobe, Japan from 18 to 22 January 2005. The Conference will be held under the theme, “A Safer World for All” and is billed as a milestone event to increase the international profile of disaster risk reduction; to promote the integration of disaster risk reduction into development planning and practice; and strengthen local and national capacities to address the causes of disasters that continue to devastate and impede the development of many countries.
They welcomed the fact that the Region will be represented at the highest level at the Conference.
Heads of Government expressed grave concern over the deterioration of the political, economic, social and security situation in Haiti. They reiterated that there could be no compromise on the fundamental principles of respect for human rights, due process and good governance enshrined in the CARICOM Charter of Civil Society.
Heads of Government noted an initiative currently underway under the leadership of Brazil to address the political instability in Haiti by facilitating dialogue among the Haitian parties.
Heads of Government expressed their willingness to contribute to this initiative and in this regard, mandated the COFCOR to undertake dialogue with the Rio Group and other interested parties and report to the Heads for further consideration and direction.
Heads of Government recalled that CARICOM had been engaging with Haiti in various ways, including through the provision of humanitarian relief, following the disastrous floods of April and September 2004. Heads reiterated their commitment to the people of Haiti and the importance which the Community attaches to the provision of humanitarian assistance to Haiti.
Heads of Government reaffirmed their support for the candidature of Trinidad and Tobago for the site of the Headquarters of the FTAA, given the attributes that make it the favoured site for the headquarters of the hemispheric free trade area. They called on other countries of the Hemisphere to make Trinidad and Tobago their preferred choice for the site.
Heads of Government also reiterated their support for the candidature of His Excellency Albert R. Ramdin of Suriname for the position of Assistant Secretary-General of the Organisation of American States at elections to be held in June 2005.
Heads of Government also endorsed the candidature of Judge Patrick Robinson of Jamaica for re-election to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for the period 2005-2009.
Heads of Government further reiterated their strong support for the Pacific Region to be accorded the post of Secretary-General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States in keeping with the principle of rotation and as decided by the ACP Council of Ministers in 1999 and endorsed by the ACP Summit held in Fiji in 2001.
Group of 77
Heads of Government pledged their support to Jamaica which will assume the Chairmanship of the Group of 77 in January 2005.
Heads of Government expressed their appreciation to the Government and People of Trinidad and Tobago for once again hosting them at a Special Meeting of the Conference. They recognised that the warmth and hospitality exhibited by the Government and People of Trinidad and Tobago had contributed to the constructive discourse which marked their Meeting.
Date of Sixteenth Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference
Heads of Government welcomed the offer of the Republic of Suriname to host them at the Sixteenth Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference on 16-17 February 2005.
Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) met in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, for the Tenth Special Meeting 8-9 November 2004, pursuant to the decision of the Conference at its Twenty-Fifth Regular Meeting at Grand Anse, Grenada in July 2004 to convene a Special Meeting to discuss progress towards the establishment of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), including realising the Single Market targets by 2005. They declared their resolve to advance the regional integration movement as a vehicle for the economic and social development of all Member States, their peoples and the CARICOM Region as a whole.
Heads of Government remain convinced of the logic of the CSME, its embodiment of the essence of a mature economic integration enterprise and its potential for unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit that is inherent in the Caribbean people, for stimulating the productive sectors of Member States, for increasing productivity within such sectors and for building a Caribbean architecture of economic independence, sustained economic growth and social cohesion.
In this context, Heads of Government reviewed the status of implementation in each Member State towards the 2005 timeline agreed in 2002 – and fast tracked by the decision of Heads of Government at their Fourteenth Inter-Sessional Meeting in 2003, to 2004 for Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago – for the removal of restrictions. Those States committed to meeting the 2004 timeline are on track for achieving this. Those on target for 2005 will be able to do so with some technical assistance and facilitation by the CARICOM Secretariat. Legal amendments have been prepared and submitted to each Member State so that the legislative process can be completed.
A realistic assessment of the implementation of the CSME by Member States indicates that overall, the core measures relating to the establishment of the Single Market would be in place by December 2005.
Key elements to complement the removal of restrictions on the free movement of goods, services, capital and skilled CARICOM nationals include the financing of the CSME Work Programme and the establishment and operationalising of the Development Fund for Disadvantaged Countries, Regions and Sectors. The Conference mandated the Council for Finance and Planning (COFAP) to agree on a financing mechanism for approval of the Conference at its July 2005 Meeting. The Development Fund it was agreed, is essential to enable small states to liberalise their markets without undue dislocation and must be in place by 2005. The Conference agreed that it was time to expand the categories of CARICOM nationals who have the right to free movement within the Community beyond the five stated professional categories – graduates, media workers, artistes, musicians and sportspersons – taking into consideration the call from the labour movement for the inclusion of additional categories of workers. The Lead Head with responsibility for Labour and Free Movement of Skills will work with a Task Force to develop proposals for the consideration of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) and a submission to Heads of Government in time for their July 2005 Meeting.
Heads of Government, accepting that it is the role of Governments to provide the enabling environment for the growth of economic activity, recognise that non-State actors have an important role to play in the promotion of the CSME agenda. To this end, they mandate that non-State stakeholders such as the private sector, labour, consumers and NGOs, be provided with the information they need to be properly advised and equipped to capitalise on the opportunities as well as prepare for the challenges consonant with the creation and implementation of the CSME.
Private sector presentations at the Meeting highlighted the fact that despite incompletion of the process towards the full implementation of the CSME, the Single Market is creating an enabling environment for the successful cross-border operations of business and, in particular, financial services enterprises. This provides further impetus for the completion of the work to create the CSME.
The Heads of Government remain convinced that at all times it must be borne in mind, as a central focus of the CSME, that its ultimate aim is a marked improvement in the quality of life of the people of the Community.
They share the view that the success of the CSME will not be complete until the people of the Caribbean come to feel that they own the process and accept their responsibility for ensuring its success, recognising that their individual and collective advancement is intrinsically linked with the regional economic integration project. Heads of Government welcome the undertaking by Barbados to fund the Worker Education component of a renewed Public Education Programme and agree that 2005 be declared the Year of the Single Market.
They note that the Single Market has laid the platform for the progression to the Single Economy. They share the view that movement from the Single Market to the Single Economy constitutes an advance beyond market arrangements to the establishment of the environment for competitive production in the Region. To this end, Heads of Government agree to an indicative timeline of 2008 for the Single Economy and have mandated the preparation of a Regional Development Strategy in time for adoption at their Inter-Sessional Meeting In February 2005.
Heads of Government agree that the Tenth Special Meeting, held primarily to discuss and advance the progress towards the creation of the CSME, was a worthwhile and timely opportunity for a frank exchange of views and an important juncture at which to have taken stock of the efforts so far to create this new regional economic architecture. The legislative work to be done, and the resolve of Member States and the administrative arm of the Caribbean Community should be infused with new energy to embark on the next leg of the journey towards the CSME. This is a journey that will involve a process of fundamental harmonised liberalisation and the adoption of a strategy for the economic repositioning of CARICOM to achieve sustainable growth and continued improvement in the lives of our Caribbean citizens.

Skip to content