(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen,
Greater Georgetown, Guyana) The Caribbean Community
(CARICOM) is urging the United States to commit to
the outcome of the Cancun Climate Change Conference.
Ambassador Irwin LaRocque made the call at the
accreditation ceremony of the new US Ambassador to
the Community, His Excellency D, Brent Hardt at the
CARICOM Secretariat’s Georgetown, Guyana
headquarters on Tuesday.
The Secretary- General
acknowledged and commended the US Government’s
efforts to initiate programmes such as ECPA which
has 40 projects underway throughout the Americas
including in some CARICOM Member States but pointed
out that the best way to combat climate change was
on a global level and within the United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
“The Region therefore urges the
US to commit to the outcome of the Cancun Climate
Change Conference in order to advance the chances of
mitigation and adaptation for our Small Island
Developing and low-lying Coastal States faced with
the ravages of climate change, as we approach the
negotiations in Durban, South Africa in December of
this year,” Ambassador LaRocque said.
The Secretary-General said the
both sides had identified security, closer economic
linkages, and climate change among areas they will
continue to focus on as they advance relations. In
acknowledging the robust and friendly relations
CARICOM and the US enjoyed, he pointed out that the
relationship had evolved, and was changing and
adapting as their respective domestic circumstances
and geopolitics required.
The one constant, Ambassador
LaRocque said, was the strength of the relationship
and the goodwill which were manifested in various
activities at several levels. He singled out the
Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), launched
last year, under which the US government had
provided significant funding to projects and
initiatives in the Region to reduce drug
trafficking, enhance public safety and security and
promote social justice.
“This arrangement is mutually
beneficial to both the US and the Region in the face
of on-going threats to the security of our
respective countries,” Amb LaRocque said, and added
that he was deeply appreciative of US support “in
this important area which is fundamental to
providing the right environment for securing our
objective of sustainable development”.
In the area of trade, the
Secretary-General referred to ongoing discussions on
a Revised Trade and Investment Framework (TIFA)
which will form the basis for CARICOM-US engagements
on trade and economic cooperation. He also pointed
to the International Diaspora Engagement Alliance
(IDEA) which will bring together governments,
corporations and non-profit organizations to
facilitate Diaspora communities in the promotion of
trade and investment, job creation, business
start-ups and the development of projects that will
benefit their countries of origin.
In remarks after presenting his
credentials, Ambassador Hardt also spoke of the CBSI,
describing the initiative as a “new and innovative
approach” to security that sought to address both
root causes and consequences of crime and violence
that threatened the social fabric and economic
vitality of CARICOM Member States.
He added that the US was
committed to concluding a Trade and Investment
Framework Agreement, and was pleased that recent
discussions had brought the two sides closer to that
“We would also welcome an early
meeting of the Trade and Investment Council. The
extension of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership
Act for a further ten year period through 2020 will
ensure continued preferential access to the U.S.
market for Caribbean products that can stimulate
growth and job creation in the Caribbean region,”
the new envoy said.
With reference to IDEA,
Ambassador Hardt said that the initiative would
bridge the gap between the Diaspora and
entrepreneurs in their countries of origin.
“We want to promote trade, help
start businesses, and develop new models for
spurring economic growth. The Caribbean is the first
region in the world selected to demonstrate the
potential of this alliance, whose access to capital
and technical assistance should begin bearing fruit
next year. In November, the State Department, in
partnership with the IDB, Canada’s CIDA, the UK’s
DFID, and key private sector organizations including
Scotia Bank and Digicel, will launch Caribbean Idea
Marketplace (CIM). CIM is a business competition
that will call on members of the Caribbean Diaspora
to submit innovative business proposals. The winning
proposals will receive matching grants ranging from
$50,000 to $500,000 as well as special financing,”
Amb Hardt said.
The United States, he added,
shared the view that closer economic integration and
expanded trade opportunities were fundamental to the
prosperity and sustainable development of the
With respect to climate change,
Ambassador Hardt said that his country recognized
the “disproportionate impact” of climate change on
small island nations and low lying coastal regions
such as such as those in the Caribbean. As such, the
US was committed to cooperate with CARICOM countries
and institutions under the ECPA to support energy
efficiency, encourage renewable energy development,
and mitigate the impact of climate change.