The United Kingdom (UK) has pledged £75 million to assist with development projects within the Caribbean region over a four-year period.
The UK’s commitment came out of talks at the 7th UK/Caribbean Forum held in St. Georges, Grenada from January 20 to 22.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. A.J. Nicholson, made the disclosure on Friday Feb. 10, during a statement in the Senate on the outcome of the forum, which he attended.
Senator Nicholson said the injection of funds will go towards efforts to build resilience through the development of practical mechanisms that will boost growth in investment, employment, production and trade opportunities that would enhance the prospects of the people of the region.
"The UK Foreign Secretary (William Hague) underlined the importance that the UK has attached to its relations with the Caribbean and announced a pledge of £75 million, over a four-year period, to assist with the development projects in the region,” he stated.
He noted that the pledge of funds was one of the major outcomes of the meeting, which also saw agreement between the delegates from the Caribbean and the UK, to establish strategic partnership to promote prosperity, growth and development.
Under the theme ‘Sustainable Growth Toward Prosperity’, the delegates engaged in wide ranging and frank discussions on major areas of cooperation, trade and investment, security, climate change and sustainable development, and foreign policy issues, Senator Nicholson informed.
In addition to the political dialogue, a significant aspect of the forum was the two parallel meetings on security and trade and investment, both of which identified practical areas for cooperation between the UK and the Caribbean, he informed.
“It should be stressed that at the outset of the meeting, the Caribbean insisted that there should be tangible outcomes from the forum, which would have an impact on development at the national and regional levels,” he stated.
“We therefore adopted a plan of action that identifies concrete areas of cooperation in this new strategic partnership and areas for joint activities,” the Minister added.
Jamaica's delegation, which was led by Minister Nicholson, also included Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting; Acting Permanent Secretary in the Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Vilma McNish; and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of National Security, Dianne McIntosh.
The UK delegation was led by Mr. Hague, and included Ministers from the Home Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for International Development, security officials, and members of the private sector. The group represented the largest and highest Ministerial delegation to the Caribbean in a number of years.
The two-day forum is considered the principal vehicle for political dialogue between the UK and the countries of the region, including Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
By Athaliah Reynolds, JIS Reporter