CARICOM Heads of Government continued to lobby for the G20 to focus on the plight of small, vulnerable economies and highly indebted middle income countries during a meeting with their Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper in Cartagena, Colombia on Saturday.
The leaders were in Cartagena to attend the Sixth Summit of the Americas which opened later that day, a press release from the CARICOM Secretariat at Turkeyen said.
The meeting on Saturday morning was the second for CARICOM Heads of Government with a member of the G20, having met with Mexico on Friday evening.
The discussions with Canada centred on economic issues, the ongoing negotiations for a trade and development agreement between the two sides and security cooperation.
The CARICOM leaders acknowledged the special relationship that Canada and CARICOM had enjoyed for almost a century and emphasised it was a “dynamic and evolving one which was based on mutual respect and shared interests, from which we have both benefitted.”
They thanked Canada for its assistance in advocating CARICOM’s views in fora such as the G20 and urged that the advocacy be pursued with even greater urgency considering that the seemingly endless global economic and financial woes continue to wreak havoc on the small, vulnerable economies in the community.
The leaders briefed Prime Minister Harper on CARICOM’s efforts to use its collective strengths to combat the challenges and secure the future through measures such as the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and initiatives such as the establishment of CARICOM enterprises.
They also took the opportunity to express appreciation for the support provided to CARICOM in the implementation of the CSME through the CARICOM Trade and Competitive Project, including the assistance for the integration of Haiti into the CSME.
Meanwhile, CARICOM was assured of Mexico’s support with respect to advocating for small vulnerable economies in the upcoming meeting of the G20 which is being hosted by Mexico in June.
The assurance came at a meeting between CARICOM Heads of Government and President of Mexico Felipe Calderon in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia on Friday prior to the Sixth Summit of the Americas in that city.
The CARICOM leaders used the opportunity to impress on their Mexican counterpart the importance of the G20 revisiting the basic premise upon which countries are classified in the International Financial Institution framework.
Such classification affects the type and level of assistance which a country can receive from the IFIs. A number of CARICOM countries have been graduated out of the concessional financing arrangements because they have been classified as middle income countries.
The Heads of Government made the point at the meeting that consideration must be given to special arrangements for the vulnerability of Small Highly Indebted Middle Income Countries (SHIMICS), a category into which many of the countries reside, the release noted.
Both sides agreed that the meeting on Friday was a prelude to the scheduled CARICOM-Mexico Summit which will be held in Barbados in May.
President Calderon signalled that the issue of the reform of the IFIs and the concerns of the CARICOM countries would be placed on the G20 Agenda and further discussions on the issue would take place at the Barbados Summit.
Both sides also placed great importance on stabilising global food and commodity prices. The instability of those prices, they agreed, increased the level of poverty and could become a major source of social unrest.
In the meantime, the leaders indicated their disappointment in the failure of the international community to honour pledges made to rebuild and reconstruct Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.
They agreed that the issue would be raised during the Sixth Summit of the Americas to remind those countries which had made pledges to act on delivering them, the release added.