The Most Honourable Andrew Holness, O.N., M.P.,

Prime Minister of Jamaica

to the

Opening Ceremony of the Thirty-Seventh

Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government

of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

Georgetown, Guyana,

4th – 6th July 2016


Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica, Chairman of the Conference

His Excellency Brigadier (ret’d) David Granger, President of Guyana

Honourable Moses Nagamootoo, Prime Minister of Guyana & Members of the Guyanese Cabinet

Honourable Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize and Outgoing Chairman of the Conference

Specially Invited Guest, Her Excellency Mrs Michelle Bachelet, President of the Republic of Chile

Colleague Heads of State and Government

Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, CARICOM Secretary-General

Members of the Diplomatic Corps

Distinguished Guests

Good Evening

I am honoured to join colleagues here in our beautiful sister state of Guyana, at this, the Opening Ceremony of the Thirty-seventh Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government.

I thank you President Granger, Secretary General LaRocque and the Government and people of Guyana for the warm hospitality extended to my delegation since our arrival. I certainly appreciate the efforts made to facilitate this important meeting and look forward to a successful outcome.

May I congratulate you, Prime Minister Skerrit, on your assumption to the Chairmanship of the Conference! I have no doubt, based on your extensive experience, that under your stewardship, the Conference will take concrete steps to further the important work of our Community.  May I also commend you Prime Minister Barrow for the work you have done during your Chairmanship of the Conference over the past months.

Mr Chairman,

Our meeting today is no ordinary gathering. It is taking place at a very important juncture in the history of our region and globalised world.  A world in which events far afield can have local and regional impact.

Just over a week ago, in a historic referendum, the majority of voters in the United Kingdom chose to leave the European Union, causing shock to Britain, the EU and the international community and creating major panic and disruptions in financial markets across the globe.  Most countries did not anticipate that the United Kingdom would withdraw from the most highly developed integration movement in the world – an integration construct on which our very own CARICOM was modelled and to which we have often looked for guidance and best practices.

This development in Europe, aside from triggering debate in Jamaica and no doubt in other countries in the region, about the relationship with, and the benefits of, membership in our own regional bloc, will have far-reaching impact on our already vulnerable economies in various areas such as trade, tourism, financial services, immigration, development assistance and overall CARICOM-UK and CARICOM-EU relations. As a region, we must proactively assess the likely threats and opportunities these global changes present. However, as we consider the evolving global order, equally we must seize the opportunity to reflect upon our own Community, to assess whether we are on track with our plans and commitments to secure economic growth and prosperity for our people.

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