CARICOM Heads paper over their disunity

David Granger, outgoing CARICOM Chairman and President of Guyana, has warned fellow Heads of Government that the Caribbean Community cannot cling to an obsolete model of insularity and must do more to protect its interests internationally.

Speaking at the opening of the annual CARICOM summit, held this year in Grenada from July 4-6, President Granger said that the region faced an international background of uncertainty and complexity.

“The Caribbean Community cannot cling to an obsolete model of insularity… The mirage of fifteen airlines, fifteen cricket teams, defence forces and fifteen embassies in the capitals of the world might mesmerise a few sentimental romantics but could deplete the treasuries of our states”, he said.

President Granger went on to say that CARICOM was larger and stronger when it was united.

In an apparent reference to recent significant divisions between CARICOM states over how to respond to the internal situation in Venezuela, he said: “(CARICOM) must not underestimate the value of its solidarity or its strength when it speaks with a single voice as a Community… Foreign policy coordination is the sharp instrument, the cutting edge, of our diplomacy, to gain our great advantage. We should not damage it”.

He criticised the Community’s annual food import bill, which exceeds US$4bn, describing it as “a notorious indictment of its ability to promote investment and stimulate intra-regional trade in agricultural commodities”, before going on to say that the region needed to re-examine how it can dismantle the non-tariff barriers to trade in agricultural products while generating employment for its citizens. Intraregional trade, he observed, provides a basis for increasing national production, augmenting investment and generating employment.

Speaking about the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) he said that although the CSME is the most ambitious project attempted by the Community, it must not “become its most ambiguous”. In view of “present uncertainties facing the Region’s international relations”, President Granger said that the CSME “must be accelerated in order to create a single economic space”.

In his sometimes-forthright remarks, CARICOM’s outgoing Chairman said……

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