Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart says sustained development could be attained only in an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity and lauded the tone of engagements at the Third Caricom-Mexico Summit, noting that Mexico and the Caribbean shared similar concerns and it is now time for them to deepen trade and other ties.
Stuart, who hosted the last Caricom-Mexico meeting in Barbados in May 2012, was pleased to note, at the April 28-29 Summit, that two years later relations between Caricom and Mexico had strengthened and co-operation deepened.
“There are particular issues which resonate with both CARICOM and Mexico,” he said, pointing out that they shared the Caribbean Sea and issues of mutual concern such as climate change and disaster management, agriculture, and food and nutrition security. Similar concerns were raised by other Caribbean leaders at the Summit including Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque and President Donald Ramotar.
“To those we would like to add the defining of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the Barbados prime minister said. “As negotiations progress on that matter, the concerns of Small Island Developing States, particularly as they refer to the need to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience in all their forms, must also be a concern for all countries,” he said, according to a communique from the Caricom Secretariat.
Stuart asserted too that Mexico’s membership of the G20 provides an important platform for it to publicise the views of small Caribbean states to foster greater understanding and acceptance of the peculiar circumstances which apply to them. The 2008 global economic and financial crisis has exacerbated the economic challenges faced by member states; many are struggling under high debt burdens. Their classification as middle-income, upper-middle income, or high-income countries limits access to vital concessionary and development financing. The Barbados head of state said Caricom will continue to advocate for an alternative measure of development to that of GDP per capita, and for these measures to take into account the overall conditions of our vulnerability and resilience in the context of sustainable development. The Community will also continue to need Mexico’s valuable support in that endeavour.
In the past year the international community took a major step towards improving the ability to harness the illegal trade in arms, which has been a major contributor to the security challenges, with the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) by the UN General Assembly in April 2013.
“The task now is for us to work together to achieve its prompt entry into force and its full implementation as the first legally binding international instrument on conventional weapons trade,” he said. According to Stuart, as that work progresses the Region will be seeking Mexico’s support for Trinidad and Tobago’s initiative to host the Treaty’s Secretariat. Mexico can be assured that Caricom will also look favourably on its aspiration to host the first session of the Conference of States Parties to the Treaty.
It is now imperative for the Caribbean and Latin America to deepen their relations, particularly as they relate to the improvement of our trade and investment ties. It is within our capacity to demonstrate to all the value of South-South co-operation, and Caricom and Mexico have an important role to play as pioneers with four decades of experience in that regard.
Further he noted that Mexico’s initiative to establish the Infrastructure Fund for Mesoamerica and the Caribbean is a clear indication of its commitment to the development of the wider region, and its willingness to be a responsible partner in assisting with the development of its neighbouring countries.
“CARICOM is fully aware that its growth and development agenda will be significantly advanced through enhancing, in particular, its transportation and its Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure. Strategies to achieve these goals are being actively pursued,” he said. Stuart said the Region has also taken note of Mexico’s initiatives in ICT and transportation at the level of the ACS, aimed at bringing the region closer together.
Stuart noted too that while the Summit is taking place against a backdrop of heightened global tension with the crises in the Ukraine and the Middle East; those problems “give us an opportunity to strengthen our determination to make the Caribbean a zone of peace and to present our region as a model for harmonious relations.” According to him, the spirit of dialogue and co-operation in which the leaders were engaging at the forum should be an example for all to emulate. Sustained development can be attained only in an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity, he said, adding that this is the message that must emanate from the summit.