Wed | Oct 4, 2023

CARICOM: Caribbean leaders and US vice president had productive discussions on critical issues

Published:Thursday | June 8, 2023 | 9:27 PM
Caribbean heads of government held discussions with United States Vice President Kamala Harris in Nassau, The Bahamas today. – Contributed photo

CARICOM heads of Government welcomed the meeting between heads of state and Government of the Caribbean and the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, in The Bahamas today.

Harris co-hosted the US-Caribbean leaders meeting with Bahamian Prime Minister Philip 'Brave' Davis, who is the current chair of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

The leaders noted that the meeting presented a useful platform for productive discussions and was indicative of a longstanding relationship characterised by collaboration on many issues of mutual importance, including trade and investment, security, health, energy, disaster management and climate change.

In a statement this evening, CARICOM said the leaders noted the progress of the work of the High-Level Committee on Food Security between the USA, CARICOM and the Dominican Republic resulting from the Summit of the Americas process.

They reaffirmed that the matter of food security must continue to be given priority as part of the enhanced Caribbean-US engagement. They emphasised that, to this end, commitments already made must be implemented, and that the two sides should examine additional ways to address this challenge, which affects the Region and the global community.

The leaders also welcomed the announcement of increased resources to respond to trafficking of firearms and gun crimes. However, they underscored their grave concern at the continued increase in the illegal exportation of guns from the United States of America, which contributes significantly to crime and violence in the region, causing death and disabilities, and compromising safety and democracy.

They called on the United States to support efforts to manage porous borders and share intelligence to combat the increasing destabilisation due to firearm proliferation and related crimes in the region.

With respect to the situation in Haiti, the leaders underscored that social and economic development is critical to the country's future stability. They outlined ongoing CARICOM Good Offices Initiatives, including appointment of an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) to broker discussions with Haitian stakeholders scheduled to formally start with meetings in Jamaica from 11-13 June 2023.

The Caribbean leaders stressed the importance of reform of the global financial system to mobilise short-term liquidity for crisis response and long-term funding for sustainable development, as proposed under the Bridgetown Initiative. They acknowledged the progress made to include Climate Disaster Clauses and noted that support is needed to finance Global Public Goods that address mitigating their vulnerability.

The leaders recognised that to address the challenge of energy security, there must be a balanced approach to develop the region's hydrocarbon resources and to maximise renewable energy potential. They agreed that the Caribbean-US engagement must continue to examine areas for deepened collaboration where opportunities exist.

In the context of the bilateral relationship with the United States, CARICOM Heads of Government urged for the removal of sanctions on Venezuela to allow countries in the region to benefit from the PetroCaribe initiative and for progress on the exploitation of cross-border natural gas fields between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela. The leaders also reiterated CARICOM's consistent call for the removal of sanctions against Cuba.

Both the Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean and the US acknowledged that the meeting ventilated issues critical to the current and future prosperity and security of the region and committed to ongoing dialogue and concerted action towards mutual benefit.

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