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The Caribbean should expect increased assistance from Canada as relations between that country and CARICOM have recently been strengthened with the appointment of its first Plenipotentiary Representative, His Excellency Serge Marcoux.

In presenting his letters of Credence to Secretary General of CARICOM, Mr Edwin Carrington ,earlier this week, H.E. Marcoux reiterated his country’s commitment to maintaining a fruitful dialogue with the Community, listing his three-fold mission to CARICOM as economic prosperity, regional and hemispheric harmonization, and respect for cultural diversity.

“Our respective countries have come to realize and to accept that strengthening democracy, creating economic prosperity and realizing human potential are three goals intimately related and that it is impossible to reach one without promoting each of the other two,” Ambassador Marcoux added.

Noting that the Canada/CARICOM collaboration was in keeping with the overall objectives adopted by the 34 Heads of Government at the Third Summit of the Americas held in Quebec City in 2001, the High Commissioner stressed, “We must combine our efforts to promote a living environment in which all our citizens are able to participate fully in the development of their respective countries, taking into consideration both the expansion of economic opportunities and a commitment to social equity.”

The gesture of goodwill extended by Canada comes at a time of great need, as the Region continues to grapple with economic hardship as a result of eroding preferential arrangements and demands on re-orienting its human capital to become more competitive.

Secretary General of CARICOM, Mr Edwin Carrington, noting the revolutionary effect of globalisation, expressed gratitude to the Canadian government for what he described as “the principle of special treatment for smaller economies.”

The Canadian administration always seem ready to engage in a convergence of views on hemispheric issues such as good governance and human rights, the Secretary General observed.

“The relationship which the Caribbean Community has enjoyed with Canada has been considered a special relationship. It spans collaboration at the bilateral level, in the political, economic, trade and cultural sphere,” he pointed out.

The manifestation by the Canadian government is in keeping with its history of support to the Region in the areas of trade, foreign investment and finance. According to the Secretary General, Canada has also given support in some key regional programmes and projects including the CARICOM Fisheries Resource Assessment and Management Programme (CFRAMP), CARICOM Regional Institutional Strengthening Project (CRISP) aimed at upgrading the CARICOM Secretariat’s capacity and efficiency and the CAREC-HIV/AIDS Project (CHAP) for screening and testing HIV.

The Caribbean is the highest per capita recipient of Canadian development assistance having received an estimated CAN $2 billion in aid since 1963.

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