While CARICOM has had a long history of disagreement between member states on various issues, delegates attending the second meeting of ministers of energy of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Montego Bay, St James, are calling for the region to unite around energy security.
"Normally, the contentious issue in energy is in the area of trade … . Most of the other aspects are areas in which there is convergence in terms of the need to cooperate," said Joseph Williams, manager of the energy unit in the CARICOM Secretariat.
"I think there are more issues that we agree on than those that divide us."
SPECIAL ATTENTION NEEDED
According to Williams, who was among the senior officials in attendance at the meeting at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, the issue of trade needs to be given special attention because of its strategic importance and its potential to be contentious.
"The issue of trade is one that has to be looked at in the broader agreements that were established. Those are the ones that possibly breed contention," said Williams. " … The very small economies with limited capacity or financial resources cannot operate with those constraints."
The two-day event opened with a technical meeting of senior officials who are analysing issues related to regional security and energy integration, with a view to preparing the preliminary draft for the Declaration of Montego Bay. The senior officials are also mandated to approve the agenda to be discussed by the ministers.
The meeting will be officially opened by Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell today. Cuba has the pro tempore presidency of CELAC this year, and will be succeeded by Costa Rica in 2014.