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CARICOM tackles regional issues at heads of government meeting

Posted: Tuesday, February 25, 2020. 6:49 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Bridgetown, Barbados last week hosted the 31st inter-sessional meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government, chaired by Prime Minister Mia Mottley. Belize was represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wilfred Elrington.

Belize signed instruments of ratification for the Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Community Accreditation Agency for Education and Training and accession for the Revised Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency.

At the opening, speakers emphasized the need for the Community to act in concert in order to overcome the challenges posed both within and from outside of the Region. The theme of CARICOM “as a family’ threaded through the presentations.

Belize has joined a sub-committee of Prime Ministers led by St. Vincent and the Grenadines to review the work of a previous group on issues of implementation, financing and institutional arrangements for the governance of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). The sub-Committee would submit a Strategy and Programme to address implementation for consideration and approval to the meeting of the Conference in July 2020.

Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) provided a detailed briefing on actions being taken throughout the Region to prevent the importation and transmission of the COVID-19 (coronavirus). While the risk of transmission remains low, an outbreak could reverse economic gains. Leaders endorsed a proper communications strategy to increase public knowledge and counter myths and misinformation, especially from social media. The heads of government welcomed efforts by China to assist students and other CARICOM citizens in that country who cannot return home at this time, and its offer of support to address potential gaps in their response should any case of coronavirus appear.

On Belize-Guatemala relations, Elrington presented an update on the most recent developments and was asked, along with Guatemala and the Organisation of American States (OAS), to reinvigorate their efforts to engage in the design and development of a mechanism of co-operation for the Sarstoon River and to continue implementing fully the Confidence Building Measures that have been in place since 2005.

Heads of Government re-emphasized their unwavering support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of Belize.

The next regular meeting of the Conference is 2-3 July 2020 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.


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