Foreign Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the United Kingdom Foreign Secretary ended two sessions of “frank and cordial” talks in Freeport, The Bahamas at the Ninth Caribbean UK Forum.
Co-Chairs Honourable Fred Mitchell, Foreign Minister of The Bahamas and the Rt Honourable Phillip Hammond, Foreign Secretary of the UK both expressed their satisfaction at the discussions during a press conference on Saturday at the end of the biennial Forum.
Mr Mitchell indicated the range of issues which engaged the ministers including climate change, health, financial services, correspondent banking, security and border threats. He announced that there would be six monthly follow-up meetings at the level of senior officials on both sides prior to the next Forum scheduled for the UK in 2018.
Mr Hammond, who had announced assistance to the Region for the fight against the Zika virus at the opening ceremony on Friday night, stated the relations with CARICOM countries were important to the UK. In reference to climate change, the Foreign Secretary said there was work still to be done despite the signing of the Paris Agreement on 22 April. He said the UK was committed to helping achieve the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, a key element of the Community’s position on climate change.
The Foreign Secretary said he recognised the legitimacy of the financial services offered in the off-shore financial sector. However there were, he said, people who abused the services offered for illegitimate purposes. He added that it was important to ensure that these centres could not be accused of aiding and abetting such actions.
Mr Mitchell pointed out that after the discussions on the issue there was a more complete understanding of the financial services sector in the Region and everyone was clear there were no ”negative moral implications” about the sector.