(CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown) Relations between the Caribbean
Community (CARICOM) and Canada will be bolstered in the areas of crime and
security cooperation, transportation and social development, with these areas
identified for further discussion and priority attention by Canada's High
Commissioner and Plenipotentiary Representative to CARICOM, His Excellency Bruno
The Canadian envoy presented his Letters of Credence to CARICOM Secretary
General, His Excellency Edwin Carrington, on Thursday 2 December at a brief
ceremony at the CARICOM headquarters in Georgetown, Guyana.
Welcoming High Commissioner Picard, the CARICOM Secretary General noted that
CARICOM and Canada have enjoyed a long history of friendship and alliance,
initiated through the Canada-West India Trade Agreement of 1925, and its
successor, the Canada-CARICOM Trade and Economic Agreement of 1979.
Highlighting the significance of Canada-CARICOM relations, which he said have
been accentuated by bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the political,
economic and cultural spheres, Mr. Carrington lauded Canada's steady support for
the Caribbean integration process in the last four decades. "More recently
the Caribbean Community welcomed the financial aid and fraternal support
provided by Canada in the wake of the devastating hurricanes which swept through
our Region," Mr. Carrington noted.
He added that the Caribbean Diaspora in Canada plays key professional and
leadership roles in Canada's development, and he expressed commitment to ongoing
collaboration between the Region, Canada and the international community for
example, towards the return of stability and security in Haiti, CARICOM's newest
member. The CARICOM Secretary-General posited that the Region anticipates
hosting the Eleventh Meeting of the CARICOM-Canada Joint Trade and Economic
Committee, as a platform to advance talks on bilateral and hemispheric issues.
In his remarks, the Canadian envoy to CARICOM emphasised that few other
counties in the hemisphere share such deep historic roots with Canada, as does
the countries of CARICOM. These connections, he said, have been marked by the
presence of Canadian investments in the Region, in areas such as banking and
tourism. "The personal ties that bind numerous Canadian and Caribbean
political and economic decision-makers are eloquent examples that illustrate the
history, depth and quality of the Canada-CARICOM human, trade, political and
economic relationship," stated Mr. Picard.
He added that Canada has been following closely the development of CARICOM,
where much has been achieved, including the creation of the Caribbean Court of
Justice (CCJ), and the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
High Commissioner Picard mooted the idea of a free trade arrangement between
Canada and CARICOM, which he said would strengthen political ties between the
two sides, and serve as a building bloc to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).
"A Canada-CARICOM free trade agreement would also contribute to the shared
goal of deepening development through economic integration within the
hemisphere," Mr Picard added.
Pointing to the challenges now facing the hemisphere, the Canadian-CARICOM
envoy said issues such as improved border, airport, port and national security,
intelligence and immigration procedures that do not hinder the easy flow of
goods and people, should be addressed collaboratively at the regional and
international levels, as a means of maintaining liberalization and democracy.
He disclosed that Canada has earmarked April 2005 for the establishment of a
security arrangement that is aimed at assisting countries to strengthen their
security and safety mechanisms.
Over the years, Canada has assisted CARICOM in its poverty alleviation
programmes, and has also supported the Region's Private Sector and capacity
building of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM).
The CARICOM Secretariat currently benefits from funding assistance to support
institutional strengthening under the CARICOM Capacity Development Fund (CCDP).
Contact: Carolyn Walcott