Jan 04, 2009 News
Belize Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, is the new chairman of the Caribbean Community (Caricom).
Barrow is taking over the position from Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister, Baldwin Spencer, who served as chairman for the past six months.
In his New Year’s speech to the Community, Barrow said that the particular characteristic of geography in the Caribbean is a reminder of the reach and scope of the region.
The ‘cast net’ nature of the physical locations of individual countries in the region, he added, is part of the collective advantage.
This, Barrow said, is what gives the Caribbean the ‘ready-made platform’ for the construction of the necessary ties with the various regions and sub regions.
In the current global circumstances, it has to be clearer than ever that going it alone is not an option for any small country, or any one agglomeration of small countries, he noted.
The vision of CARICOM leaders twenty years ago to set the goal of a Single Market and Economy, has been more than validated by events, Barrow added.
“We in the Caribbean have a long history of producing thinkers and seers and visionaries. But we also produce more than our share of doubters. I do not say this slightingly, but rather in tribute to the questioning, rambunctious, even sometimes contrarian nature of our democracy.”
Barrow added that the region’s, minutely analytical public discourses, its often scathingly skeptical debates, are as they should be.
But there does come a time when consensus must prevail, when talk must give way to action, he said. That time, he stressed, ‘is now.’
“We are called urgently, in the roiled conditions of the global convulsion, to first of all consolidate the operations of the single market. Thereafter we must proceed with all deliberate haste, always of course ensuring special treatment for the most vulnerable among us, to the establishment of the Single Economy.”
To suggest that there is a cogent need for a recommitment to this particular end, is not to discount the progress already made, he added.
In addition to world circumstances, Barrow posited, there are particular imperatives for the Community to enhance its competitiveness and strengthen its internal arrangements.
“One such is the Economic Partnership Agreement signed last year between the Community and the European Union; and another is the impending negotiations with Canada for a Trade and Development Agreement.”
He added that the region is ready to confront the challenges and exploit the opportunities that these developments bring.
“And utilizing them as platforms to maximize advantage and minimize disadvantage, will especially require the involvement of the private sector and labour. This is a complex enterprise on which we are embarked, a fraught departure requiring unity of purpose and safeness of hands.”
Institutionally, a critical dimension of the region’s approach will be the need for the community to bring closure to the long running review of its governance structure.
As Lead Head of Government for Justice and Governance in the quasi-cabinet of CARICOM, I would like to see finalization of the new apparatuses that would streamline decision-making and accelerate implementation.”
During 2009, Caricom will host two prestigious international meetings of Heads of State and Government in Trinidad.
In April, the Fifth Summit of the Americas will be held in Port of Spain, while in November it will be Commonwealth Heads that gather in the Trinidad and Tobago Capital.
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