Mar 18, 2016 News
The 23rd Meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) opened yesterday at the Marriott Hotel, Kingston, Georgetown.
The meeting was held under the chairmanship of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Haiti, Lener Renauld and saw the various ministers from member states. including Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, participating.
At the opening ceremony it was announced that the Council will be considering matters which are high on its policy agenda, with a view to advancing coordinated action on a range of policy objectives and priorities.
In this regard, the Meeting will focus on the implementation and programming of the 10th and 11th European Development Fund (EDF), Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme (CRIP), the implementation of the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the Future of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) — including the Eighth ACP Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government, scheduled for 31 May-1 June 2016 in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea — and future ACP-EU Relations in the post-Cotonou period.
The Meeting will also focus on recent EU developments on financial services and receive reports from the two CARIFORUM institutions – the Caribbean Export Development Agency and the Caribbean Regional Information and Translation Institute.
Delivering the opening remarks was the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM); and Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States (CARIFORUM), Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.
LaRocque told the gathering that a lot has happened since they last met in December 2014, and the day’s agenda, therefore, would reflect the urgent priorities on which members must give political and policy guidance and direction.
“When we last met, we were in the process of negotiating the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Regional Indicative Programme with the European Union (EU). I have since signed the Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme (CRIP), valued at €346 million, with the EU.
That Agreement will provide support to CARIFORUM in the areas of: Regional Economic Integration and Cooperation; Climate Change; Disaster Management, Environment and Sustainable Energy; and Crime and Security. These areas are among the most critical for us in addressing our competitiveness, fostering economic growth and sustainable development. “As we design the programmes and projects, these must have a positive impact on the ground in Member States. We must also take into account the need to build capacity at the national as well as the regional levels.”
Delivering remarks also, was Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge, who described the meeting as an important and timely one.
During his address, he said that while member states pursue their development in various fields, challenges remain. These development initiatives, he explained, continue to be challenged by regional vulnerabilities and, “exposure to external factors”.
The meeting, he said, will address issues such as the implementation of the Joint Caribbean – European Union partnership Strategy; development of the European Development Fund – Caribbean Regional Indicative programme; a review of the CARIFORUM–EU Economic Partnership Agreement; EU strategy for effective taxation, and the ACP Group’s future post-2020.
The European Union’s partnership with the Caribbean in particular, was described by Minister Greenidge as valued.
“In this regard, the Joint Strategy aims to deepen EU-CARIFORUM dialogue and structure bi-regional cooperation to respond to existing and developing challenges and opportunities,” Greenidge said in his opening remarks.
Concern was expressed by the Minister about the EU implementation of its external tax-avoidance strategy for effective taxation as part of its anti-tax avoidance package. He stated that the EU’s assurances of dialogue and consultations on this matter were welcome but, the region stands ready to maintain its high standards and commitment in this process.
Chairing the event, Republic of Haiti, Cabinet Chief, Jean Max Bellerive said that CARIFORUM has helped the region to unite and work against challenges facing it. He also reminded of the meeting’s objectives, vowing to work for a “successful session.”
CARIFORUM refers to the Caribbean Forum of ACP Group of States which are signatories of the Georgetown Agreement. This Agreement was signed in 1975, and it created the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP). The grouping is composed of 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific states.
All Participating States in CARIFORUM, with the exception of Cuba, are signatories to the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement or “Cotonou Agreement” and the EPA, respectively.
The CARIFORUM Members are: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
CARIFORUM was established in the early 1990s, and its functions are to Manage and coordinate policy dialogue between its Participating States and the EU; promote integration and cooperation in the Caribbean; coordinate the allocation of resources and manage the implementation of programmes financed by the EDF and by Member States of the EU and any other source as may be approved by the Council of Ministers from time to time; provide technical guidance and assistance to Participating States in meeting the commitments and securing the benefits provided for in the CARIFORUM-EU EPA; and provide support for the effective participation of CARIFORUM in the Institutions provided for in the CARIFORUM-EU EPA.
The Council of Ministers of CARIFORUM is the Decision-making Body of the grouping. It provides policy guidance and mandates.
Furthermore, CARIFORUM has a rotating chairmanship, in the alphabetical order of the names of the Participating States and is held for a period of twelve (12) calendar months commencing, with effect, from July 1. The current Chair is Haiti and Jamaica takes over the chairmanship from July 1.
The Secretary-General of CARIFORUM is assisted by the Director-General, who also serves as CARIFORUM Regional Coordinator of the EPA. Of note, the Director-General, inter alia, coordinates and supervises the technical operation of the CARIFORUM Directorate, a technical and administrative body. Based in the CARICOM Secretariat, the Directorate comprises the Development Cooperation Unit and EPA Implementation Unit, respectively.
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