Press release 14/2012
(22 January 2012)

UK-CARIBBEAN TO BUILD STRONG TIES AROUND FOUR KEY AREAS
 

 

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) The Caribbean and the United Kingdom have agreed to establish a new and improved strategic partnership to promote prosperity growth and development within both regions.

This is in keeping with the spirit of cooperation and with the theme of the Seventh UK-Caribbean Forum - Sustainable Growth Toward Prosperity – which opened in Grenada on Friday evening.

The spirit of the new strategic partnership is reflected in the 31-point action plan which was issued at the end of the two-day political dialogue on Sunday afternoon.

The action plan outlines four major areas of cooperation: economic resilience, security, climate change and sustainable development and foreign policy.

With that outcome document Foreign Ministers agreed to build economic resilience through development of practical mechanisms that will boost growth in investment, employment, production and trade opportunities that would redound to the benefit of both Regions.

The UK agreed to support the efforts of the Caribbean in improving their food security through efficient production and distribution measures.

Perhaps the most welcome news for the Caribbean is the agreement by the UK to re-open dialogue on issues relating to the Air Passenger Duty (APD) which is threatening the Caribbean’s tourism sector. The UK agreed that in the spirit of cooperation and in the context of the importance of tourism to the economic development of the Caribbean, it will continue dialogue with a view to assisting the Region in mitigating any deleterious effects that the application of the tax may have on its economies.

The Foreign Ministers also agreed to develop effective coordination mechanisms to help advance the fight against drugs and international crime.

In the area of climate change and sustainable development the UK noted that the Caribbean already had a very strong voice in the international community and is poised to “give value for money.” Therefore Foreign Ministers agreed on the urgency of closing mitigation gaps to bring global temperatures well below 2oC or below 1.5oC above preindustrial levels.

As it relates to foreign policy, the Foreign Ministers agreed to work together in international fora to tackle pressing socio-political and security issues which threaten international peace and security.

The full text of the Action Plan is appended below:

SEVENTH UK-CARIBBEAN FORUM FINAL ACTION PLAN

At the Conclusion of the Seventh Ministerial UK-Caribbean Forum held in St. Georges, Grenada, Ministers Agreed:

Economic Resilience

To establish a new strategic partnership between the countries of the Caribbean and the United Kingdom to promote prosperity and build economic resilience through the development of practical mechanisms which will enhance growth in investment, employment, production and trade opportunities to the benefit of the Caribbean and the UK;

To continue to work together to ensure that UK Aid to the Caribbean achieves optimum development results.

To explore all avenues, including the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), to improve access for Caribbean exports of goods and services, via policy frameworks. These would include taking concrete steps to, inter alia, attain international standards, reduce bureaucracy, facilitate business travel, and increase levels of innovation.

To promote the development of the services sector through increased facilitation of service providers, consumers and cooperation among public and private sector partners, including Business Support Organisations, recognizing the fundamental importance of growth in this sector for the social and economic development of both the United Kingdom and the Caribbean.

To continue to build the capacity and enhance the competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.

To work to stimulate improvement in the investment climate, with attention to the regulatory framework and, through reform, to stimulate greater competition in order to attract greater levels of both domestic and foreign investment.

To support the efforts of the Caribbean countries to improve their food security and the resilience of their food and agricultural sectors, through measures aimed at enhancing the efficiency of production and distribution systems and the economic security of producers.

To continue dialogue on issues relating to the APD, in the spirit of cooperation and in the context of the importance of tourism to the economic development of the Caribbean, with a view to assisting the region in mitigating any deleterious effects that the application of the APD may have on its economies.

To work together to ensure that final EU decisions on the proposals for Improving the Impact of EU Development Policy and on the Future Approach to EU Budget Support are appropriate and take into account the particular needs of the Caribbean”.

To work together to make the case in international fora that, notwithstanding their categorisation as middle income countries, the Caribbean nations are highly vulnerable to exogenous shocks and natural disasters due to their small size, limited human, technical and financial resources, high-indebtedness and exposure to the effects of climate change.

To agree that the UK will engage the Caribbean in advance of G20 and OECD meetings to obtain an appreciation of Caribbean concerns so as to ensure that the decision- making in these bodies takes account of the special and particular circumstances of the small, developing Caribbean states.

To work together on migration and its proper management and to raise greater awareness of the positive contributions made by immigrants in the areas of social, political and economic development.

To work towards the increased engagement of the Caribbean diaspora in order to foster investment, the expansion of markets for goods and services and to encourage opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Security

To look to develop, during 2012, effective coordination mechanisms to help take forward our partnership in the fight against drugs and international crime, including through the establishment of a UK-Caribbean Expertise Exchange Mechanism to promote best practices on security issues across the region.

To enhance collaboration and coordination in the fight against illegal drug trafficking among the Caribbean, the UK and its Overseas Territories through regional initiatives, greater intelligence sharing, and targeting the proceeds of crime and support the Caribbean to engage more effectively with the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI).

To establish, in full collaboration with the United States of America, a regional network of land- based law enforcement units trained and equipped to a common standard. These units would provide a fully inter-operable regional resource to conduct land based surveillance and interdiction operations.

To work to restrict the illegal trade and availability of small arms and light weapons which contribute to the increasing level of armed violence and undermine stability, security and development.

To remain engaged in negotiations to conclude an Arms Trade Treaty in 2012 and for the successful outcome of the Review Conference of the UN Plan of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.

To work together to strengthen the criminal justice systems in countries, including through the establishment of national prosecution services, modernisation of laws of evidence to include forensics and best practice on gathering evidence from suspects and witnesses. The UK and the Caribbean will work with the Commonwealth Legislative Drafting Programme to assist with the development of criminal procedure/justice in the region.

To share best practices and use this to strengthen efforts to reduce youth crime, gangs and violence and improve the juvenile justice system in the Caribbean.

To strengthen efforts to combat the trafficking in persons; and to keep each side apprised of issues related to criminal deportees.

To cooperate in joint efforts to protect and bolster their common land and maritime borders and to ensure that all land and maritime borders are mutually agreed and, disputes are settled in accordance with International Law.

To continue to work together to fulfil the human rights obligations contained in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Climate Change and Sustainable Development

23. To collaborate closely on climate change issues, recognising that current ‘business as usual’ trends are likely to lead to catastrophic climate change, including warming, since the pre-industrial period of 4C or more. Preventing this is an imperative we share.

24. To work together with urgency and vigour to:

urgently close the ambition gap between current mitigation commitments and those necessary to keep long-term temperature increases well below 2C or 1.5C above pre-industrial levels;

secure agreement by 2015 based on the Durban Platform for enhanced action on a comprehensive legally binding global framework, incorporating commitments commensurate with a 2C or 1.5C threshold;

to ensure that the Green Climate Fund (GCF) is made fully operational and begins to disburse funds as expeditiously as possible, including to enhance climate resilience in the most vulnerable countries;

to identify sources and ensure adequate mobilisation of long-term climate finance in coming years, and to meet the agreed goal of $100bn of additional finance, per year, by 2020;

to build on and strengthen the cooperation that emerged at COP17 between the members of Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the European Union (EU); and to widen this alliance to include other like minded parties; and to use this to ensure that the world delivers on the commitments made in Durban especially in relation to the 2015 deadline for a comprehensive, legally binding agreement;

to strengthen the capacity of the Caribbean countries to participate in the international climate change negotiations.

To act together in our own economies and societies to reinforce these goals. Actions speak louder than words.

To continue to work together to build climate resilience in the Caribbean at national and regional levels. We welcome the progress that is being made on all continents to build climate resilient and low carbon models for development. We will cooperate to ensure that the Caribbean plays a full part in this movement, and is able to take full advantage of the opportunities that are opening up.

To work together in addressing the concerns of small island developing states as agreed in the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation.

To develop a long-term strategy to ensure energy security for the Caribbean through the greater use of indigenous and renewable sources, given its energy supply challenges. This would include technical exchanges between both sides as a matter of urgency; increased investment in green technology; and the encouragement of public, private and academic partnerships between the UK and the Caribbean to develop and utilise alternative energy sources.

Other Foreign Policy Issues

To work together in international fora to tackle pressing socio-political and security issues which threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.

To continue working together in the Commonwealth to strengthen the organisation, to safeguard its principles and traditions for democracy, human rights, development and prosperity in all member states, by engaging in relevant post CHOGM follow up activities, including the implementation of CMAG reform.

To support the principle and the right to self determination for all peoples, including the Falkland Islanders, recognising the historical importance of self-determination in the political development of the Caribbean, and its core status as an internationally agreed principle under the United Nations Charter.

Contact: piu@caricom.org
             caricompublicinfo@gmail.com
 

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