Press release 85/2003
(24 June 2003)
BUSY SCHEDULE FOR CARICOM OFFICIALS
: HEADS OF GOVERNMENT MEET IN MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA, 2-5 JULY 2003
In a year when the Caribbean Community is celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Community’s Heads of Government, as well as the Trade and Finance Ministers and senior officials will culminate a series of meetings in Jamaica in June and July with the Twenty Fourth Regular meeting of the Heads of Government in Montego, 2-5 July 2003.
The Meetings in Jamaica come at a particularly critical time for the Region with much attention being focused on the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME, the pending inauguration of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and external trade issues especially in light of upcoming negotiations in relation to Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union as part of the ACP Group of countries, and also within the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
In Kingston on 28 June 2003, the Region’s finance ministers will have their eighth meeting under the umbrella of the Council for Finance and Planning (COFAP) while Ministers responsible for sugar will meet on 30 June 2003.
Prior to the focus being shifted to Montego Bay, where the Heads will meet at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, there will be a service of Thanksgiving in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Community at the chapel of the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies on 29 June 2003.
The leaders will then retire to Ocho Rios for two days of private discussions before proceeding to Montego Bay for the Opening Ceremony of the Meeting on 2 July.
A feature of the Opening Ceremony, which will be broadcast live on television across the region, is an address by His Excellency Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa and Chairman of the African Union.
CARICOM leaders who will address the Opening are the Most Honourable Percival Patterson, Prime Minister of Jamaica and incoming Chairman of CARICOM, the Hon. Pierre Charles, Prime Minister of Dominica and outgoing Chairman, Rt. Honourable Owen Arthur, Prime Minister of Barbados, the Honourable Said Musa, Prime Minister of Belize and Mr Edwin Carrington, Secretary-General of CARICOM.
The agenda for the Heads of Government focuses on the critical priority areas for the Community at this time. The programme towards the implementation of the CSME will be reported on, in particular the issue of the free movement of persons and the legal framework for the operation of the CSME, namely the CCJ. The steps towards the inauguration of the Court are expected to be of particular interest to the Heads of Government.
The Heads of Government will receive progress reports on steps towards reviving the regional economy including assistance to Dominica, the establishment of the Regional Stabilisation Fund, the Regional Economic Transformation Programme and Trinidad and Tobago/CARICOM Support Programme.
The issue of crime and security will be discussed with the Heads of Government receiving a special report from the specially established taskforce.
The Community’s relations with international organization remains a priority and in this regard, the Heads of Government will have an exchange of views with the Secretaries-General of the Commonwealth and the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Directors General of the WTO and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) They will also interface with regional social partners, namely the private sector, labour and civil society.
The Community’s Trade Ministers will meet with the United States Trade Representative Mr Robert Zoellick on 2 July and with the Director General of the WTO, Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi on 3 July.
The Heads of Government Meeting ends on 5 July.