Posted: Monday, February 28, 2022. 10:06 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: The heads of government of the Caribbean region have begun landing on Ambergris Caye for Tuesday’s 33rd Intersessional Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government Summit.
Today, CARICOM Secretary-General Dr. Carla Barnett addressed the press and emphasized that she expects much progress on several issues.
She noted for instance that in the area of agriculture, “the key objective is to place the Community in a position to reduce the import of food,” citing shipping concerns and lingering effects from the pandemic and the need to stimulate the industry.
“I know that there is a tendency for the media sometimes to refer to the meetings as a lot of talk and no action, but you know there has to be talk to agree on the action to be taken,” she explained. But she conceded that there has been little movement on the interaction of integration movements like CARICOM and SICA following their 2011 joint plan of action, though a revised version will be agreed on to “invigorate” both areas and Belize will take its place at the fulcrum of the region.
Other key issues include how member states can begin realizing the single market and economy for the region, despite years of trying to make it happen. She discussed one proposal that could lead to action: “One of the important things that will on the table at this meeting is a protocol on the enhance cooperation among member states that will allow some groups of member states to work together closely so that we do not remain bound by the current understanding that we all have to agree to every single step before we make a single step. Because that’s one of the issues that keeps back forward movement in the community. The growing feeling is that if there can be like-minds among a subset of countries, and they want to move forward, and a particular aspect of this Single Market and Economy, we ought to be able to move forward together and then the remainder who may not be ready at the same time, can join on when they are able to. And so, this protocol will allow that kind of forward movement.”
The other is short-term assistance and long-term development of the region’s most hobbled member, Haiti: “CARICOM has offered good offices to Haiti from time to time to be able to offer assistance, for strengthening of administration, for strengthening the electoral processes, for training of security forces, for different kinds of undertakings. We feel at this time that we will continue to have those things on the table, but we also feel that there’s a particular role that we need to play, which is to encourage and, in some ways, lead the international community towards consideration of the long-term development plan for Haiti.”
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