CARICOM conference ‘a success’ – Baugh

KINGSTON, Jamaica: The 12th meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), which concluded in Kingston last weekend, has been hailed by Caribbean Community (CARICOM) foreign affairs ministers as highly successful.

At a post-conference news briefing Saturday, Chairman of the Council and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr. Kenneth Baugh, said the agenda was loaded with many “very interesting, very important items”, and they were all dealt with.

Dr. Baugh, reading from the meeting’s communiqué, said that members engaged in discussions on the global financial and economic crisis, recognizing the emerging challenges and the negative effects, and agreed to officially monitor the crisis, given the foreign policy implications for the region.

He also noted that COFCOR will meet with United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in June at San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to discuss “several poignant issues” relating to CARICOM countries.

Baugh added that several issues were identified for further discussion with the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, at the proposed CARICOM-Canada summit, scheduled for the last quarter of 2009.

These issues include security concerns, trade and development agreement and the joint programming of the C$600 million in development assistance to the region under the free trade arrangement.

“We have had some signals and some indications from Canada that they are willing to consider this development dimension,” Baugh said. “That dimension is to help Caribbean states to develop capacities for production, so that we will have the goods and services that we can take advantage of the new markets in Canada and the United States.”

A request from the Dominican Republic to be readmitted to CARICOM is under active consideration, as well, he said.

“We’re looking at the details: what does it mean for trading, for our economies; what does it mean for other kinds of relationships, within the context of being a member of CARICOM,” Baugh said.

Baugh also reported that members agreed that relations between the Caribbean and the African and Pacific members of the ACP are to be strengthened.

He said that COFCOR also endorsed the proposal, emanating out of the Fifth Summit of the Americas, for the establishment of a hemispheric development fund to benefit Haiti. (JIS)

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