HONOURABLE PHILIP DAVIS
CHAIR OF THE CONFERENCE &
PRIME MINISTER OF THE BAHAMAS
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2023
Fellow heads of Government
Members of the local and international media ( in the room and online)
Ladies and gentlemen
The Forty-Fourth Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean\ Community (CARICOM) was held from Wednesday, February 15 and concluded this afternoon. We had robust and fruitful discussions and are confident that we have advanced the agenda for Caribbean integration, the growth of our national and regional economies and the well-being of our
The Conference welcomed several special guests. The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada emphasized his government’s commitment to forge stronger ties with the region through the continuation of the Canadian-Caribbean Trade Agreement (CARIBCAN) and to support strategies to address climate change and create employment. He also underscored Canada’s support
to curb the ongoing instability in Haiti.
Heads of Government also welcomed the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Discussions focused on the commitment of CARICOM countries to a rules- based multilateral trading system. Member States also discussed completing negotiations towards a
comprehensive and effective agreement on fisheries subsidies, the need for open, transparent and effective negotiations on agricultural trade reform and a fully functioning dispute settlement mechanism for all Members of the Community.
We also engaged with Professor Benedict Oramah, President, AFREXIMBANK and welcomed the Bank’s wide range of services available to Member States.
We received a presentation from His Excellency Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine.
Heads of Government deliberated on an effective agenda to advance sustainable peace and prosperity in our sister island, Haiti. A statement on the matter was issued today (Friday 19 th ), which reiterated that CARICOM must play a leadership role to address the deteriorating situation in Haiti, a Member State of the Community, in light of our moral and political obligations.
COVID-19 AND OTHER EMERGING HEALTH ISSUES
Heads of Government received an update from the Caribbean Public Health Agency’s (CARPHA) comprehensive response to COVID-19, Mpox and other regional health security threats.
We noted with concern the continuing prevalence of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and stressed the importance of sustained efforts to address it.
We recognised the need to allocate adequate resources for Vector Control Programmes to curtail the spread of Zika in the Region and agreed to support CARPHA’s Vaccine Campaign launch to improve COVID-19 vaccination and a regular, expanded programme of immunization activities.
CARICOM SINGLE MARKET AND ECONOMY (CSME)
We discussed amendments to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas to provide for the regulation of mergers and acquisitions in the CSME, based on an approved Community Policy.
Heads of Government endorsed the decision of the COFAP to amend the Intra-CARICOM Double Taxation Agreement (ICDTA), through a Protocol on Treaty Shopping and Exchange of Information.
Our expectation is that the Protocol should be ready for signature at the Regular Meeting of the Conference in July 2023.
CARICOM AGRI-FOOD SYSTEMS AGENDA
Heads of Government received an update on the progress made by the CARICOM Ministerial Task Force on Food Production and Food Security (MTF) and endorsed its priority activities for 2023.
The taskforce has been focusing and addressing its efforts on several thematic areas which are deemed to have retarded regional agricultural growth, including the removal of all non-tariff barriers (NTBs) to Regional Trade in Agricultural Produce; de-risking of the Sector, digital agriculture; research and development; and review of the CET.
We also received a project proposal, “Building Food Security through Innovation, Resilience, Sustainability and Empowerment”, from the President of Guyana, and accepted his government’s pledge of US$2M towards financing and implementing this project.
BRIDGETOWN INITIATIVE FOR THE REFORM OF THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL ARCHITECTURE
Heads of Government discussed the need for measures to improve the functioning of the global financial system, particularly in the context of the numerous crises adversely affecting the Community and which put Middle Income Countries at risk for reversal of economic gain. These
include climate change, debt, food and water insecurity, the digital divide, health pandemics and Anti Microbial Resistance, and threats to biodiversity.
We agreed to work collectively for a complete restructuring of the global financial architecture, that will allow countries of the Region to respond to the current and emerging existential threats.
The Heads of Government expressed deep concern at the current levels of violence being experienced in Member States. We recognize that to adequately address crime and violence, a holistic approach must be undertaken which addresses economic growth and prosperity, legislative, judicial, police and education reform.
In this regard, the Meeting agreed to a Symposium to be hosted by Trinidad and Tobago in April 2023 to consider Crime as a Public Health Concern.
CARICOM’S 50TH Anniversary Celebrations
Heads of government discussed CARICOM’s fiftieth anniversary celebrations which officially get underway in July 2023 in Dominica, where the next Regular Heads of Government meeting will be held from July 3 -6, 2023. We proposed that, propelled by the theme, “50 Years Strong: A Solid Foundation to Build On”, the celebrations will allow an opportunity for Review, Reflection, Reform
and Renewal, where we will examine the founding tenets of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, achievements of the past 50 years, and strategies for guiding our countries into a vibrant, thriving egion of prosperity and peace.