The Caribbean Community and Spain have identified ICT and the development of regional micro, small and medium enterprises, among other priority areas for continued cooperation following the Third Meeting of the Caricom-Spain Joint Commission held on Monday.
These priorities, along with the strengthening of a competitive Regional economy are among areas that will be pursued under Spain’s technical cooperation agreement with the Caribbean Community. “Developing human capacity through the transfer of knowledge, as well as cooperation on sustainable development, the environment, and security were also singled out as areas for further cooperation between the Region and Spain,” a press release from the Caricom Secretariat said.
The two sides, led by Manorma Soeknandan PhD., Caricom Deputy Secretary-General and Rafael Garranzo Garcia, Director of Cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean, of the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development respectively, mapped out a new partnership for the next four years and agreed that it was necessary to evaluate the programmes and projects that were done under the Second Joint Commission to determine their impact.
In her address at the opening of the meeting, Soeknandan underscored the need for the Caricom-Spain cooperation to be evident to member states, noting that the areas identified were directly or indirectly linked with the priorities in the strategic plan which is being developed for the Community, particularly, economic growth, security and democratic governance. She noted that the Community had taken note of changes with bilateral international partners. Those changes, she said, had stimulated Caricom’s interest in and response to issues related to the predictability of aid, and the consequences of the graduation of many Caricom member states from development assistance due to their attainment of middle income status.
Against this backdrop, the Deputy Secretary-General said the Community has acknowledged Spain’s representation of issues unique to Middle Income Countries (MICs). She said Caricom was keenly aware of Spain’s acknowledgement of the inadequacies of the traditional criteria used in the classification of countries as MICs, and welcomed its continued advocacy for a more critical examination of the current policies for their graduation from development assistance.
According to Soeknandan, Caricom also welcomed the modality of the cooperation established through the Caricom-Spain Joint Fund which started with US$1.4 M for jointly approved projects and had been sustained with additional funding for bolstering areas of critical importance to regional development.
In his remarks, Garcia said Spain had taken note of the deepening of Caricom-Spain relations since the First Meeting of the Joint Commission in 2002. He said an agreement on the implementation of areas of cooperation was very important to Spain as it was “really willing” to demonstrate “the political will” to implement the scope of the Caricom-Spain cooperation agreement.
According to the press release, discussions between the Community and Spain were advanced within the framework of the scientific and technical cooperation agreement signed between the Kingdom of Spain and Caricom member states in 1999. An addendum to that agreement establishing the Spain-Caricom Joint Fund was signed in 2011.
Included in the new areas of cooperation advanced on Monday were cooperation on sustainable development, the environment, and security. Collaboration to support stabilisation and development in Haiti, as well as matters related to the Post-2015 Development Agenda – to which Spain is committed to participating in and developing – ere also endorsed.
During the talks, the Caricom delegation raised the matter of progress on Community reform, focusing on the development of the five-year Strategic Plan for the Community that is to be presented to Caricom Heads of Government at their July meeting.
At the same time, the Spanish delegation underlined that Spain has been firmly committed to the sustainable development of the Caribbean Community with which it signed its first Regional Cooperation Programme in the region, celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. Despite the severe economic challenges, Spain is among the top 10 donors to Caricom and a strong advocate of aid to the Caribbean basin, contributing to making the European Union the region’s largest donor.
The III Spain-Caricom Joint Commission reveals the provision of additional funding by Spain for cooperation programme with the Community geared towards contributing to the strengthening of the strategic regional role and international position of Caricom, to the regional integration process and to the strengthening of the institutions of Caricom member states.
The First Joint Commission Meeting was held in Madrid, Spain, in 2002, and the second was held in Kingston, Jamaica, in 2006.