Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders cordially kicked off their annual summit on Monday, signing the Chaguarmas Agreement to coincide with CARICOM Day, which gave birth to the regional integration movement, hoping for a new vision to deepen the 15-member grouping.
“As we prepare for our talks, for the next two days, we are aware of the importance of solidarity and the spirit of a community while resolving issues on our agenda,” said incoming CARICOM chairman and host, President Chandrikaparsad Santokhi.
“Lastly, we must unite to advance sustainable development for the countries of the region, and ensure that no one is left behind.”
CARICOM Secretary General Dr. Carla Burnett said the summit is being held at a time of serious global crisis in these three important areas of food, energy and finance.
“Solutions for our region require a combination of intelligence and a willingness to work together. This work is not outside of us, we have proven time and time again. So let us once again correct the violation and make a change in the lives of our people, ”he added.
But the newly elected Grenadier Prime Minister, Deacon Mitchell, one of the three leaders recently elected to address the official opening ceremony on Sunday, said Caricom should do more to “not be seen as a place where we talk, and talk, and talk.” Then we’ll talk more. “
His Bahamian counterpart, Philip Davis, reminded regional leaders that “the scaffolding for our regional architecture, the scaffolding for our future, is in our hands,” said another newly elected leader, St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre. We must show our people that we are together, facing similar problems that can only be solved by a unified CARICOM. “
CARICOM is going to put a lot of emphasis on the issue of implementation during this summit, a situation that has hampered the regional integration movement from the beginning, and as Santhoki asked, “Have we improved effective cooperation as a region, and increased policy coordination? ?
“Have we been able to effectively facilitate inter-regional trade, and work to remove barriers? Have we implemented policies to facilitate the free movement of individuals and goods? Has CARICOM met the development goals of its members?”
“Indeed, for one of the oldest integration agencies in the Western Hemisphere, our community needs to make this assessment. In true Caribbean fashion, we not only have to reflect, we also have to celebrate many achievements, ”he added.
The summit comes at a time when the region is recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 epidemic that has crippled the regional economy, closed borders and significantly affected health services.
Before the epidemic, all predictions were that an economic recovery was on the horizon. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean has forecast 7.8 percent growth for the Caribbean. Travel began again, our tourism industries reopened; Our citizens were going back to work and school.