(GIS) – Prime Minister of Saint Lucia and immediate past chairman of CARICOM, Hon. Allen Chastanet, highlighted a number of issues that continue to be a priority for CARICOM.
These include the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, to which the Prime Minister indicated that CARICOM should arrive at some decision so as to demonstrate to the people across the region its determination to make the integration process work for them.
The mobilization of funds to tackle the issues of disaster risk financing as a consequence of climate change was also a priority item.
“On climate change, we must continue to press for the re-classification of SIDS by the OECD, to take into consideration our vulnerability and the adverse implications of current protocols governing debt classification and our access to financing. Moreover, we must redouble our efforts towards the establishment of a dedicated fund for SIDS. Interestingly it is the Ministers of Finance from the developed countries who may have found the solution through the introduction of a carbon tax. While I agree that would be a truer representation of the cost of carbon, the question is, who should the revenue go to? While the emissions occur at the point of production, the impact is felt globally. We must as a region look to establish and advocate for environmental justice so that offenders are appropriately and effectively sanctioned.”
With the United Kingdom leaving the European Union at the end of this year, CARICOM has been in ongoing discussions with the UK on an agreement that would govern trade between the Caribbean region post-Brexit and replicate the effects of the CARIFORUM-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Prime Minister Chastanet explained that this will ensure continuity in the preferential trading relationship and avoid disruption in preferential trade between the CARIFORUM States and the United Kingdom.
“The UK market is important to us as it currently absorbs approximately 25 percent of our total exports to Europe, which comprise bananas, rum, sugar, rice, agro-processed goods and methanol. With regard to services and investment, the UK has provided significant guarantees of access to its market and CARIFORUM is committed to working closely with the UK to ensure that our service providers can take further advantage of this market. The new CARIFORUM-UK EPA goes into operation from January 2021 and seems a fair compromise between the CARIFORUM and the UK, as well as a testament to the commitment and willingness of both sides to do what is best for their economic operators.”
Prime Minister the Hon. Allen Chastanet is succeeded by Prime Minister of Barbados, Hon. Mia Mottley who serves as Chair of CARICOM.