Caricom Heads of Govern-ment have selected Ambas-sador Irwin LaRocque to serve as the seventh Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community.
Ambassador LaRocque, 56, a national of Dominica replaces Sir Edwin Carrington of Trinidad and Tobago, a press release from the Caricom Secretariat said. The secretary-general designate is the current Assistant Secretary-General for Trade and Economic Integration at the Caricom Secretariat, having served in that post since September 2005.
LaRocque was educated at Queen’s College and the New School for Social Research, both in New York, and New York University; he majored in Political Philosophy, Political Economics and Economics respectively.
Prior to his appointment as Assistant Secretary-General, he served as Permanent Secretary in various ministries in Dominica for more than 14 years, including in the Ministries of Trade, Industry, Enterprise Development, Tourism, and Foreign Affairs, where he headed the diplomatic service. He also served as the principal advisor to the Government of Dominica on all matters pertaining to economic integration and regional and international trade. LaRocque was Dominica’s senior policy adviser on the revision of the original Treaty of Chaguaramas and served on the Caricom Inter-Governmental Task Force which drafted the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
According to the release, he has a wealth of experience in management, public administration, economic development, trade, foreign affairs and diplomacy. During the period when Dominica underwent a structural adjustment programme, the ambassador was a member of the Cabinet-appointed Public Sector Reform Task Force, which included the private sector, trade unions and non-governmental organisations, with responsibility for the overall management, planning and performance review of the public sector reform process. He also served as the Chairman of the Consultative Working Group, a public/private sector consultative and advisory committee appointed by the Dominica Cabinet, with focus on the enabling environment for private sector development and growth.
LaRocque has served on several boards including those of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, Caribbean Export, the Dominica Agricultural, Industrial and Development Bank and the Dominica National Development Corpora-tion. As Assistant Secretary-General, he has provided strategic leadership for the continuing implementation and further development of the Caricom Single Market and Economy as well as the sectoral programmes of the Community including agriculture, services, industry and energy.
LaRocque has managed diplomatic negotiations with third countries and international development partners which required political acumen for successful completion. He has testified, on behalf of the Community, before the US International Trade Commission on trade relations between the Caribbean and the US with emphasis on extending and expanding the Caribbean Basin Initiative.
The ambassador is currently the Co-Chair of the US-Caricom Trade and Investment Council and is leading the negotiations with the United States Trade Representative Office for a new Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. LaRocque has gained experience with the European arrangements through his involvement in developing and negotiating with the Commission of the European Union, development assistance under the European Development Fund. His experience in national public sector reform will be critical in the reform and restructuring process of the Caricom Secretariat, which is currently in progress.
Caricom also said LaRocque has served and had a close working relationship with several prime ministers of his homeland, and also in the Region by interacting with and providing advice to various Heads of Government and Cabinets in his capacity as Assistant Secretary-General.
Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and Caricom Chairman Dr Denzil Douglas, in announcing the selection said: “My colleague Heads of Government and I believe that Ambassador LaRocque possesses the requisite skills of visionary leadership, courage and commitment required to guide the Community at this time of change and uncertainty.”
In response, Secretary-General-designate LaRocque expressed his deep appreciation for the confidence reposed in him by the Heads of Government. He said he was “humbled and privileged for this opportunity to continue my service to the Governments and people of the Caribbean Community. As we strive towards the goal of a Community For All, the confidence of the Heads of Government, the support of the people of the Community and the committed staff of the CARICOM Secretariat are vital in achieving that objective.”