A Special meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean
Community (CARICOM) took place in Barbados on 26th and 27th
January, 1974 .
All the four Member States of the Community were represented: Barbados by the
Rt. Hon. Errol Barrow, Prime Minister; Guyana by Hon. Forbes Burnham, Prime
Minister; Jamaica by Hon Michael Manley, Prime Minister; and Trinidad and Tobago
by Hon. George Chambers, Minister of Finance.
Barbados – Senator
to Hon. Branford Taitt, Minister of Trade, Industry and Commerce
- Hon. S.S. Ramphal, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Justice
Frank Hope, Minister of Finance
George King, Minister of Trade
Hon. P.J. Patterson, Minister of Industry Trade and Tourism
Tobago – Hon. Errol Mahabir, Minister of Industry and Commerce
Hon. James Mitchell,
Premier of St. Vincent and Chairman of the West Indies Associated States (WISA)
Council of Ministers, was specially invited to attend to participate in the
discussions of the Conference. Mr William Demas, Secretary-General of
the Caribbean Community Secretariat, was also in attendance.
The Rt. Hon. Errol
Barrow, Prime Minister of Barbados, was by acclamation elected Chairman of the
The Meeting of Conference was immediately preceded on 25th January
by a Meeting of Attorneys-General, convened to make recommendations to Conference
concerning the procedures for the non-independent countries of CARIFTA to join
the Caribbean Community. Delegation leaders at this meeting were
the Hon. George Moe, Attorney-General and Minister of External Affairs, Barbados
Duke Pollard of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Guyana
Leacroft Robinson, Attorney-General, Jamaica
Richard Crane of the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago
Carl Dundas, Legal Counsel, represented the Caribbean Community
Conference accepted the recommendations of the Attorneys-General, thus clearing
the way for the entry of those non-independent countries of CARIFTA which were
signatories to the Georgetown Accord of April, 1973 in to the Caribbean Community
on 1st May, 1974.
Conference discussed the very severe impact of the world energy crisis on the
balance of payments of the countries of the region and exchanged information
on steps they had been taking at both national and international level to alleviate
the impact of the crisis on their economies. Measures of national economic
policy of both a defensive and positive nature to meet the situation where also
Conference accepted the recommendation of a sub-committee of Ministers of Finance
that the Governors of the Central Banks of member countries should meet shortly
to recommend arrangements for regional monetary and payments co-operation to
assist the countries of the Region in meeting the international crisis.
Conference decided to proceed most urgently with the formulation and implementation
of co-ordinated regional and national production programmes in Agriculture and
industry in an effort not only to meet the immediate crisis but also to
assist in the long-term re-structuring and strengthening of the regional economies.
A decision was made to summon urgently a Meeting of Ministers of Agriculture
of the countries of the region to finalise a draft Emergency Agricultural
Programme prepared by the Caribbean Community Secretariat with the assistance
of regional technicians. Arrangements were also made to finalise and begin
implementing a co-ordinated Industrial Development Programme for the countries
of the Region.
With special reference to the Emergency Programme for Agriculture, Conference
considered a Report prepared by a Group of Regional experts in 1973 dealing
with the re-organisation of the Regional research centre (for Agriculture) at
St. Augustine, U.W.I. with a view of enabling the Centre to play a more effective
role in national and regional agriculture development programmes. Conference
accepted the proposals of the Experts and Member Governments pledged their full
financial support to the re-organised institution.
Important decisions were taken on regional transportation. Conference
agreed in principle to the establishment of a Regional transportation Council
of Ministers within the framework of the Caribbean Community to replace the
Regional Shipping Council to co-ordinate all aspects of regional Transportation,
including Shipping and Air Transport for Passengers and Freight; development
of Transport infrastructure such as Ports and Airports; and negotiating machinery
on freight rates proposed by extra-regional Shipping and Air Carriers.
A decision was also taken to appoint a Working Party of regional Officials to
submit proposals to Conference on Rationalisation of Air Transport facilities
for passengers and freight both intra – and extra-regionally.
Conference also took final decisions on the conclusion of an Agreement between
Mexico and the Caribbean Community on economic, technical and cultural co-operation.
the Secretary-General was delegated to conclude the Agreement with the Foreign
Minister of Mexico in March, 1974 at the Secretariat Headquarters in Georgetown.
In respect of Sugar the Heads of Government agreed to act in concert in the
context of the economic crisis confronting the Region. It was fully recognised
that, faced with a serious imminent threat-to their balance of payments position
and with escalating costs of production, Caribbean countries needed most urgently
to maximise their export earnings from sugar.
The price of £61 per ton for sugar under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement agreed
in 1971 was clearly no longer the reasonably remunerative price envisaged and
indeed required by the Agreement.
In all the circumstances, it was agreed that Caribbean countries in a position
to do so much immediately seek to enlarge their foreign exchange earnings by
the sale of sugar in remunerative markets.
Meanwhile, with a view to maintaining supplies under the Commonwealth Sugar
Agreement, an immediate and substantial upward revision of the NPQ price should
again be requested and urgently pursued. It was emphasized that it was
the firm desire of the Region to fulfil the 1974 supply commitments under the
Commonwealth Sugar Agreement at remunerative and realistic prices.
The Heads of Government considered the troubled situation in Grenada; they expressed
their concern over it and their hope for an early resolution of the problems
at present affecting the State on a basis consistent with constitutional propriety
and with respect for fundamental human rights; they looked forward to the day,
when, in due course, Grenada will play its full part as an independent member
State of the Caribbean Community.
Conference congratulated the Secretary-General on his appointment as President
of the Caribbean Development Bank with effect from 22nd April, 1974
and expressed appreciation for his services to CARIFTA and the Caribbean Community
and hoped that in his new post in the Bank he would continue to promote
the cause of regional economic integration.
Conference ended with the acceptance by acclamation of a motion moved by Hon.
Forbes Burnham, Prime Minister of Guyana, conveying Conference’s admiration
for the able and effective manner in which the Chairman, the Rt. Hon. Errol
Barrow, Prime Minister of Barbados, had chaired the Meeting and its appreciation
of the efficiency and hard work of the supporting staff of the Barbados Government,
and conveying the thanks of the visiting Delegations for the hospitality and
warmth with which they had been received by the Government and people of Barbados.