The Twentieth Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean
Community (CARICOM), was held in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on 4-7 July
Heads of Government in attendance were: Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham, Prime Minister
of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas; Rt. Hon Owen Arthur; Prime Minister and Minister
of Finance and Economic Development , Barbados; Hon Said Musa, Prime Minister
and Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs, Belize; Hon. Edison James, Prime
Minister and Minister of Legal Affairs and Labour, the Commonwealth of Dominica;
Dr. the Hon. Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of
Grenada; Rt. Hon. Percival J. Patterson, Prime Minister and Minister of Defence,
Jamaica; Hon. David Brandt, Chief Minister, Montserrat; Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas,
Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Finance and Planning and National
Security, St. Kitts and Nevis; Dr. the Hon. Kenny D. Anthony, Prime Minister of
Saint Lucia; Rt. Hon. Sir James E. Mitchell, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance,
St. Vincent and the Grenadines; His Excellency Dr. Jules A. Wijdenbosch, President
of the Republic of Suriname; and Hon. Basdeo Panday, Prime Minister, Republic
of Trinidad and Tobago.
Antigua and Barbuda was represented by Dr. the Hon. Errol Cort, Attorney-General
and Minister of Justice. Hon. Clement J. Rohee, Minister of Foreign Affairs represented
the Republic of Guyana.
The President of the Republic of Haiti, His Excellency Dr. Rene Preval was also
Anguilla was represented by the Chief Minister, Hon. Hubert Hughes; the British
Virgin Islands was represented by the Chief Minister, Hon, Ralph T. O'Neal ; and
the Turks and Caicos Islands was represented by the Chief Minister, Hon. Derek
Also in attendance was the Vice-President of the Dominican Republic, His Excellency
Jaime David Mirabal. The Minister of Foreign Trade of the Republic of Cuba, His
Excellency Richardo Cabrisas was in attendance for a specific agenda item with
respect to the ACP negotiations with the European Union.
Heads of Government also received in special audience His Excellency Hugo Chavez
Frias, President of Venezuela; His Excellency Emeka Anyaoku, Secretary-General
of the Commonwealth; and, Dr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Food and
Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.
The Opening Ceremony was held on Sunday 4 July at the Hilton Trinidad Hotel and
Conference Centre, Port-of-Spain. The Chairman was Mr. Edwin Carrington, Secretary-General
of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
The President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, His Excellency Arthur N.R.
Robinson, graced the occasion with his presence.
The Prime Minister of Spain, Don Jose Maria Aznar, the Secretary-General of the
Organisation of American States, His Excellency Cesar Gaviria, and the Secretary-General
of the Association of Caribbean States, His Excellency Simon Molina Duarte, also
A minute's silence was served in memory of the late Sir Vere Cornwall Bird KNH,
OCC, former Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and one of the chief architects
of the Caribbean Free Trade Area (CARIFTA), the forerunner of CARICOM.
In his Opening statement, the Chairman, the CARICOM Secretary-General, called
for greater interaction between the leaders and the people of the Region, emphasising
that the new technologies allowed for unprecedented flows of information.
Statements were also made by His Excellency Dr. Jules Wijdenbosch , President
of the Republic of Suriname; the Hon. Said Musa, Prime Minister of Belize; and
the Rt. Hon Owen Arthur, Prime Minister of Barbados. The Hon. Basdeo Panday, Prime
Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and Chairman of the Conference
of Heads of Government, delivered the Feature Address.
In his statement, His Excellency Dr. Jules Wijdenbosch, outgoing Chairman of the
Conference, assessed that "our organisation has worked at strengthening its
position by placing strong emphasis on concerted action in the international community
and the development of solidarity and consensus among the Member States".
He called for the preparation of a CARICOM agenda which identified priority issues
and reflected prevailing interests.
The President underscored the vital importance of the implementation of development
programmes which are beneficial to the entire population, combat poverty and increase
purchasing power. He reaffirmed the importance of the development of human resources,
particularly in relation to the need to diversify economies and to adequately
address external factors, which may pose a threat to the internal stability of
In his statement, the Hon. Said Musa proposed that CARICOM Member States, in retooling
themselves to be more responsive to the challenges and realities of the emerging
new world order, provide relevant and quality education for their people. He suggested
that the Heads of Government issue an urgent mandate to educational institutions
in all Member States to make a determined effort aimed to give Caribbean people
full access to the world's knowledge.
With respect to the harsh new economic realities on the Caribbean region, Prime
Minister Musa encouraged Member States to redesign internal political structures
recognising the importance to regional affairs and continue the modernisation
of regional structures and institutions to effectively cope with the challenges.
The Rt. Hon. Owen Arthur, lead Head of Government on the establishment of the
CARICOM Single Market and Economy, emphasised in his statement that "a CARICOM
Single Market and Economy is a historic necessity. Even if we were not functioning
in a world of globalised economic activity, the creation of a Single Market and
Economy would still represent the most viable option open to all Caribbean societies."
He added that "one common constraint on all of us in this Community is our
financial capability. The region is our home; it is also coincidentally our only
hope. The work to sustain our region over the next five years when external timetables
will be thrust upon us, is of such fundamental importance that we cannot leave
it to fate."
In his feature address, the Hon. Basdeo Panday, Prime Minister of Trinidad and
Tobago focussed, inter alia, on matters related to trade
and to the establishment of the Caribbean Court of Justice. Regarding trade, Prime
Minister Panday stated "the new global order in which we operate is governed
by the rules-based regime of the World Trade Organisation, a regime which is not
markedly sensitive to the limited capabilities and resources of developing economies".
He indicated that the regional response to the changing global trade and economic
environment was the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and re-affirmed Trinidad
and Tobago's commitment to the CSME. Prime Minister Panday called for the swift
conclusion and implementation of the remaining Protocols amending the Treaty of
Regarding the Caribbean Court of Justice, Prime Minister Panday announced that
the Government of Trinidad and Tobago had identified a site to house the Court
which is expected to become operational in the near future.
Triennial Award for Women
Heads of Government conferred the CARICOM Triennial Award for Women on Professor
Joycelin Massiah, the sixth such conferment since the introduction of the award
in 1981. Professor Massiah was honoured for her involvement in every aspect of
Caribbean society particularly as it relates to the role of women; pioneering
research work on "Women in the Caribbean"; and her inspiring and dynamic
leadership as Regional Programme Advisor to the United Nations Development Fund
for Women in Barbados.
Heads of Government conveyed their best wishes for a speedy recovery to Her Excellency
Janet Jagan, President of the Republic of Guyana.
Heads of Government noted the messages received for the success of their deliberations.
They were pleased to receive greetings from His Excellency Kofi Annan, Secretary-General
of the United Nations. In his message the UN Secretary-General commended the Caribbean
Community for the tolerance and peaceful coexistence of its diverse peoples and
traditions and underscored that the Caribbean was a region where democratic governance
had a secure footing. They welcomed his assurance that despite the fact that small
nations may sometimes feel overwhelmed by bigger powers, the United Nations is
as much a home to them as it is to larger nations.
Revision of the Treaty of Chaguaramas
Three Protocols amending the Treaty of Chaguaramas received the signature of Heads
of Government, bringing to seven the number of Protocols signed. They are Protocol
IV on Trade Policy, Protocol VI on Transport and Protocol VII on Disadvantaged
Countries, Regions and Sectors. The Treaty of Chaguaramas is being revised by
a series of nine Protocols to give effect to the Single Market and Economy.
The Protocols signed at earlier meetings of the Conference are Protocol I on Organs
and Institutions and Protocol II on Establishment, Services and Capital, which
are being provisionally applied, Protocol III on Industrial Policy and Protocol
V on Agricultural Policy.
The two remaining Protocols -VIII on the Settlement of Disputes and IX on Competition
Policy - are expected to be completed in time for signature by the Heads of Government
before the end of this year.
Single Market and Economy
The review of the Treaty and a series of other measures are being implemented
to effect the introduction of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy by the end
Heads of Government were satisfied that a number of key measures had already been
introduced by most Member States and by the undertaking of the remaining Member
States that they would soon introduce them. These measures include the enactment
of the legislation relating to the Free Movement of Skilled CARICOM Nationals,
the Social Security Agreement, and the Double Taxation Agreement. In addition
the consultative process and the facilitation of travel of CARICOM nationals were
singled out for special attention.
Heads of Government emphasised the importance of having the necessary institutional
and administrative arrangements in place to give effect to the legal instruments
which have been signed. It mandated the regional institutions to ensure that support
is given to the national efforts to give effect, particularly, to decisions already
taken for free movement of graduates, media workers, artistes, musicians, and
for CARICOM nationals establishing businesses and providing services, as agreed
under Protocol II.
Particular attention was paid to ensuring that every effort is made to remove
remaining unauthorised barriers to intra-regional trade; and to complete the fourth
phase of the reduction of the Common External Tariff.
Heads of Government noted with appreciation the information that the UNDP had
approved $US 1.5m in support of the project on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.
The Caribbean Court of Justice
Heads of Government approved the Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Court of
Justice. They mandated the establishment of a Preparatory Committee comprising
the Attorneys General of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint
Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago, assisted by Chief Parliamentary Counsels and Supreme
Court Registrars, and representatives of the Council of Legal Education and the
CARICOM Secretariat. The Preparatory Committee is charged with the responsibility
of developing and implementing a programme of public education within the Caribbean
Community, and making appropriate arrangements for the inauguration of the Caribbean
Court of Justice prior to the establishment of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.
Regional Justice Protection Programme
Heads of Government approved for signature, the Agreement Establishing the Regional
Justice Protection Programme. The Agreement establishes a framework for regional
cooperation in the protection of witnesses, jurors, judicial and legal officers,
law enforcement personnel and their associates. Such cooperation will be reflected
in the establishment of justice protection programmes at the national level, which
will be so structured and operated as to ensure that the necessary minimum standards
of security and confidentiality are established and maintained across the Region.
Legal Education and the Practice of Law in the Caribbean Community
With respect to the development of legal education and the practice of law in
the Caribbean Community, Heads of Government took note of the status of the work
being undertaken by the Legal Affairs Committee in the discharge of a mandate
given by the Conference and its recommendations on the issue of quotas for students
for the OECS States and Belize seeking entry to the Faculty of Law, including
a commensurate increase in the quota of students from The Bahamas.
Heads of Government also noted a proposal of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago
regarding its returning nationals who have obtained professional legal qualifications
abroad, and holders of non-UWI LLB degrees unable to gain admission to the Law
Schools of the Council of Legal Education.
Heads of Government held discussions on the continuing process to reform the European
Union Banana Regime established under the Lome Conventions and its impact on the
Region's industry. They expressed appreciation for the strong support given by
the Prime Minister of Spain in his remarks to the CARICOM Heads of Government
on 4 July 1999. They called on other European Union member states and the European
Commission to continue their steadfast support for Caribbean interests in negotiating
a solution which would ensure continued viable access for Caribbean /ACP bananas.
They reiterated the Region's view that a 'single tariff only' solution would undermine
the objectives of the Lome Convention and irreparably damage the Caribbean banana
industry and the economies of the countries concerned.
Heads of Government resolved to intensify their coordinating and lobbying efforts;
and, in this regard, they highlighted the usefulness of the various favourable
interventions with leaders of several member countries of the European Union.
To carry forward these efforts, they agreed to constitute a Task Force led by
the Prime Minister of Dominica. They welcomed the initiative for early consultations
with Latin American banana producing states and called for continued contact with
the USA, including dialogue at the highest political level.
European Union/Latin America and the Caribbean Summit
Heads of Government expressed their satisfaction at the outcome of the First EU-Latin
America and the Caribbean Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 28-29 June 1999.
The broad range of issues discussed at the Summit included matters of particular
interest to CARICOM States such as democracy, human rights, globalisation and
its impact on small economies, financial services, the banana issue, education
and the environment . They reiterated their support for the new strategic partnership
between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean as expressed in the Declaration
signed by Heads of Government. Heads of Government also welcomed Spain's offer
to host the next EU-Latin America and the Caribbean Summit.
Discussions with the Prime Minister of Spain
Heads of Government held a meeting with the Prime Minister of Spain Don Jose Maria
Aznar, during which they reviewed EU-Caribbean relations and the strengthening
of relations between Spain and the Caribbean Community. They witnessed the signing
of a Framework Agreement for Cooperation between CARICOM and Spain. A report on
the outcome of their discussions is contained in the Communique issued at the
close of that meeting.
Exchange of Views with the President of Venezuela
In an exchange of views with the Conference, the President of Venezuela identified
three areas in particular in which there was scope for close cooperation between
Venezuela and CARICOM namely, economic, education and political. In the economic
sphere, he emphasised that there were opportunities for collaboration in fisheries,
tourism and agriculture. He also expressed the desire of Venezuela to expand the
number of beneficiaries of the San Jose Accord to include all states of the Caribbean.
In education, he proposed the establishment of a Caribbean University in Caracas.
Heads of Government noted that Belize and Guatemala retain cordial relations in
an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding. They welcomed the transparent
manner in which the Prime Minister of Belize was handling the recent border incident
in Belize which resulted in the unfortunate death of a Guatemalan national; and,
applauded the appointment of an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate
Heads of Government reaffirmed their full support for the territorial integrity
and sovereignty of Belize, urging continued dialogue at the political level and
renewed efforts to enhance relations through cooperation in areas of mutual interest.
Heads of Government noted the existing friendly relations between Guyana and Venezuela
conducted in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect.
In this regard, they welcomed the official visit to Venezuela in 1998 of Her Excellency,
President Janet Jagan and her attendance at the inauguration of the President
of Venezuela, His Excellency, Hugo Chavez Frias.
They also noted with pleasure that the Foreign Minister of Venezuela, the Honourable
Jose Vincente Rangel had paid an official visit to Guyana in March, 1999.
They anticipated that the implementation of the Work Programme of the High Level
Bilateral Commission that had been official established in March 1999, during
the visit of Minister Rangel, would contribute in a significant and positive manner
to the enhancement of functional cooperation between the two countries.
They expressed satisfaction over the progress being made under the aegis of the
United Nations Secretary-General, through his good officer, Sir Alister McIntyre
for a solution to the controversy.
They reaffirmed their firm support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty
of Guyana and desire for a peaceful settlement to the controversy between Guyana
Political Situation in Suriname
The President of Suriname, His Excellency Jules Wijdenbosch updated the Meeting
on the political situation in Suriname. He assured the Conference that democracy
is not at stake in the country and that his efforts are aimed at securing law
and order, safety and security. He appraised Heads of the proposals put forward
by him concerning early general and free elections by secret ballot to be held
no later than 25 May 2000. The President informed the Meeting of the ongoing dialogue
with the coalition and opposition parties represented in the National Assembly
as well as other functional groupings to agree on the final date for these elections.
He assured the Meeting of his Government's efforts to arrive at a rapid, prudent,
judicious solution to the situation.
Heads of Government welcomed the signing by Hon. Hubert Hughes, Chief Minister
of Anguilla of the Instrument conferring Anguilla with the status of Associate
Member of the Caribbean Community.
Haiti's Membership of the Caribbean Community
Heads of Government and Haiti exchanged notes agreeing on the terms and conditions
under which Haiti will accede to Membership of the Caribbean Community. This was
in keeping with the decision of the Eighteenth Meeting of the Conference in July
1997 to accept Haiti's application for Membership of the Caribbean Community on
Terms and Conditions to be determined by the Conference.
Heads of Government, therefore, looked forward to the early deposit of an Instrument
of Accession by Haiti to the Treaty of Chaguaramas. The Caribbean Community Secretariat
is the depositary for Treaty Instruments of the Community.
Situation in Haiti
Heads of Government expressed their appreciation for the contribution made by
the members of the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission in Haiti in ensuring
greater respect for human rights and in strengthening institutions essential to
the deepening of the democratic process. They paid a special tribute to the Mission's
Executive Director, Ambassador Colin Granderson, for his selflessness and objectivity
in carrying out his responsibilities in a difficult and complex political environment
and deplored the reduction in the size of the Mission, at a moment when its presence
would be most vital as Haiti embarks on the process leading to general elections.
Heads of Government accepted an invitation from the President of Haiti to despatch
a mission to Haiti over the period 18-24 July 1999 in order to be appraised of
the preparations for the forthcoming elections in that country. The mission is
to be led by Sir James Mitchell.
Heads of Government received presentations from the Caribbean Congress of labour
(CCL), the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC), and the Caribbean
Policy Development Centre (CPDC) which emphasised the importance of ongoing dialogue
among the social partners and governments on the priority social and economic
issues engaging the attention of the Community. Particular reference was made
to participation in negotiations and discussions on the CARICOM Single Market
and Economy; external trade negotiations; air transport and maritime infrastructure
policy and development; telecommunications policy; and employment generation.
Caribbean Investment Fund
Heads of Government were pleased to receive the report that the Caribbean Investment
Fund has achieved its first target in the mobilization of resources. The Caribbean
Investment Fund is a private equity fund managed by the Insurance Company of the
West Indies (ICWI), pursuant to the Agreement between ICWI and the Caribbean Community
to mobilise resources and make investments in Member States. They released a Press
statement, which inter alia, stated their expectation
that the Fund would make its first investment soon after mid-July.
Offshore Financial Sector
Heads of Government noted the report of the OECD on harmful tax competition and
its implications for CARICOM Member States and agreed to issue the following statement
on the issue:
Statement by the Conference of Heads of Government on the Offshore
Heads of Government noted with concern a report by a Committee of the Organisation
for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on what is described as "harmful
tax competition in investment and financing decisions". In this connection,
Heads of Government decided to establish a team to recommend joint approaches
to the issues raised in the OECD report.
Heads of Government agreed that it is important for all Member States to maintain
acceptable international regulatory standards so as to implement international
best standards and practices thereby minimising, and to the extent possible, eliminating
opportunity for the laundering of money derived from corrupt action, drug trafficking
or other criminal activity.
Heads of Government reviewed with representatives of the West Indies Cricket Board,
the state of West Indies cricket following the poor performance of the West Indies
team in South Africa and their disappointing results in the World Cup Series.
They also discussed the development plans of the Board and how governments could
contribute to their implementation.
Heads of Government received a report on preparations for hosting the World Cup
in 2007. They agreed that a major regional conference on cricket should be convened
and requested the University of the West Indies to take responsibility for this
Heads of Government mandated the Council for Finance and Planning to consider
and make recommendations on the proposal from the Board for a CARICOM Lotto, the
proceeds of which would finance the development of cricket and staging of CARIFESTA
on a regular basis.
Heads of Government expressed their appreciation for the warm welcome they had
received from the Government and People of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
during their stay in Trinidad and while on retreat in Tobago. They were particularly
appreciative of the cultural programme which formed part of the Opening Ceremony
of the Conference which exhibited the diverse and prolific cultural and art forms
of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and was in itself representative of the
creative energies of the whole Community.
Date and Venue
Heads of Government accepted the offer of the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis
to host the Eleventh Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government
in March, 2000 and of the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to host
the Twenty-First Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government in July