The Fifth Inter-sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community was held in Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines on 11-12 March 1994.
The Heads of Government in attendance were the Rt. Hon Hubert Ingraham, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Planning of The Bahamas; the Rt. Hon. Manuel Esquivel, Prime Minister of Belize; the Hon. Dame Mary Eugenia Charles, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the Commonwealth of Dominica; His Excellency Dr. Cheddie Jagan, President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana; the Rt. Hon Percival J. Patterson, Prime Minister of Jamaica; the Hon. Reuben Meade, Chief Minister of Montserrat; Dr. the Rt. Hon. Kennedy Simmonds, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs and Finance of St. Kitts and Nevis; the Rt. Hon. John Compton, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Saint Lucia; the Rt. Hon James Mitchell, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and the Hon. Patrick Manning, Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Antigua and Barbuda was represented by the Hon. Robin Yearwood, Minister of Public Works, Utilities, Communications, Transportation and Energy; Barbados by the Hon. Warwick Franklin, Minister of Trade, Industry and Commerce, and Grenada by Dr. the Hon. Francis Alexis, Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs.
The CARICOM Associate Member, The British Virgin Islands was represented by the Hon. Ralph O’Neal, Deputy Chief Minister. Specially invited to the Conference was Mr. Michael Camdessus, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.
In his opening remarks, the incoming Chairman of the Conference, the Rt. Hon. James Mitchell, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines noted that free trade is sometimes difficult because “the playing field is not level”. The challenge he said is to ensure adequate and meticulous preparation for free trade.
The Heads of Government reviewed the Report of the Foreign Ministers’ Committee on the recent developments in Haiti. They expressed grave concern over the continued deterioration of the situation in Haiti and urged that international efforts to resolve the crisis should be pursued with even greater urgency. The Heads of Government re-affirmed their support for the Governor’s Island Accord and for sanctions imposed by the international community.
They instructed the Foreign Ministers’ Committee on Haiti to meet with the relevant parties and determine what additional measures may be undertaken by CARICOM Governments to intensify their active participation in international efforts towards the restoration of democracy and constitutional order in Haiti.
The Privatisation of LIAT (1974) Ltd.
The Heads of Government noted in the context of CARICOM’s commitment to the privatisation of LIAT (1974) Ltd, the Governments of Antigua and Barbuda and Trinidad and Tobago reaffirmed their previous offer tabled at the Second Special Meeting of the Conference in Port-of-Spain in October 1993, and agreed to submit jointly a detailed proposal for the purchase of LIAT (1974) Ltd., at the Fifteenth Meeting of the Conference in July 1994.
The Heads of Government recognising the importance of tourism to the economies of Member States, and the efforts to develop this industry in an environmentally friendly manner, consistent with the due exercise of their rights of sovereignty, expressed solidarity with those countries now threatened by prospects of a visitor boycott campaign by certain external groups and deplored such a campaign which would be detrimental to their economic development and to the quality of life of their citizens.
INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT
The Heads of Government recognised that the Meeting of the Conference had been convened against the backdrop of an international economic environment which, due to ongoing profound structural and cyclical changes, presented the Region with a number of opportunities and significant challenges.
They noted that the external economic environment was becoming increasingly characterised by the continuing globalisation of production, investment and trade, the integration of world markets to which impetus had been given by the recently concluded Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations (MTNs), and the consolidation of regional integration movements, particular, the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) and the European Single Market.
The Heads of Government recognised the urgency of stressing in international for a that fair trade is critical to small economies in this new global economic environment. In this regard, significant developments within CARICOM were the establishment of formal trade and co-operation relations between CARICOM and other sub-regional processes, and the imminent establishment of a CARICOM-sponsored Association of Caribbean States to advance economic integration and functional co-operation.
The Heads of Government recognised that a collaborative effort was necessary to confront the changes being forced upon the Region. In this context, they called for the establishment of a Special Development Fund by Multilateral Financial Institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, with the participation of Donor Countries, to assist CARICOM countries to effect a lasting transformation of their economies.
FINANCING FOR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
The Heads of Government received a Report on a Symposium on Financing the New Caribbean which was held in Montego Bay, Jamaica in march 1994. This symposium concluded that there would be need for greater reliance on the mobilisation of private savings to finance development. They, therefore, agreed to establish a Working Group to develop policies and measures for increasing private investment in the Region, in areas such as the promotion of domestic private savings, the accelerated development of regional capital markets and increased access to foreign investment. The Group, working under the aegis of the CARICOM Secretariat, will be chaired by Sir Alister Mc Intyre
The Banana Industry
The Heads of Government considered the scenarios facing the banana industry in the Caribbean. These relate to the report of the Second GATT Panel on the challenge by Latin American Banana Exporting Countries to the import regime of the European Union (EU), the compromise offer by the EU, the increasingly active role of the United States and Mexico, the withdrawal of the European offer and counter proposals by various Latin American Exporting Countries, the implications of the possible coming into effect in 1995 of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and its new Dispute Settlement Procedures. They welcomed the continuing efforts of the Caribbean Banana Exporting Countries, and those of the Hon. Dame Mary Eugenia Charles and other Prime Ministers, to promote the Caribbean position and seek a solution which would minimise the threat to the Region’s traditional market.
The Heads of Government agreed to maintain political contact with decision-makers in the European Union, particularly the British Government, on the adoption of the Aid Regulation; seek to build a coalition with those Latin American countries most inclined to work towards a negotiated solution; begin work within the ACP to obtain the waiver in the GATT for the Lomé Agreement; mandate the CARICOM Secretariat to prepare a detailed analysis of the Second Panel Report; and intensify efforts for acceptance by the European Union Council of the Commission’s recommendations for the provision of financial resources to ACP States to diversify their economies.
The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)
The Heads of Government noted the formal conclusion of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations (MTNs) on t15 December 1993. They observed that the Forty-First Meeting of the Common Market Council held in February 1994 had taken certain decisions with regard to offers made by Member States in the areas of market access in goods and in the new and increasingly important area of Trade in Services.
The Heads of Government recognised that while the new Agreement would widen the scope for global free trade it would reduce the level of preference which CARICOM States enjoy in some markets and for certain products such as bananas and sugar. The Heads of Government also expressed concern on several matters including issues regarding the International Property Rights Agreement, and the likely negative impact of the Uruguay Package on net-food importing countries.
They noted that the new World Trade Organisation (WTO) will play a much more important role in the management of international trade in goods and services and other trade and investment related areas. For these reasons Heads of Government urged Member States to seek to join the WTO.
The Heads of Government also encouraged full representation at the GATT Ministerial Meeting scheduled for April 1994 in Morocco, at which the Uruguay round Agreements would be open for signature.
North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
The Heads of Government considered the implementation of NAFTA, the implications for the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), and the future relationship of CARICOM with the NAFTA. They were concerned that the implementing legislation for NAFTA did not seek to alleviate the potential adverse impact on their economies.
They recalled discussions between five CARICOM Heads of Government and President Clinton on the issue in August 1993 and in that context requested the Chairman of the Conference to write to President Clinton to ascertain the actions taken with respect to the understanding reached at that Meeting.
The Heads of Government recognised that NAFTA was a critical factor in the Region’s immediate development strategy. They therefore decided that the Community would seek inclusion on the list of countries eligible for early negotiations for entry into NAFTA.
They mandated the Secretariat to organise a comprehensive study of the implications of NAFTA and NAFTA membership for CARICOM as a group, the OECS sub-region and for the individual Member States. The results of that study should be available by the Fifteenth Meeting of the Conference in July 1994.
In view of the likely adverse impact of NAFTA on some sectors of production and the time which will be involved in negotiating the relationship with NAFTA, they agreed to continue their efforts to secure parity of treatment for CBI excluded products.
The Mid-Term Review of Lomé IV
The Heads of Government recalled that the Lomé IV Convention made provision for a mid-term review, including negotiation of a second five-year financial protocol which would provide more time for implementation to achieve the Convention’s objectives in a more effective manner. In this context, they observed that the ACP policy position was to limit the number of areas it would propose for re-negotiation to the areas of Trade in Services, Development of Trade, Aspects of Development Finance Co-operation and Maritime Transport.
The Heads of Government endorsed plans to use the opportunity offered by the next CARIFORUM Meeting scheduled for the Dominican Republic in April to prepare and refine the Caribbean position and that the delegation to the Meeting of the Extended Bureau in Swaziland in May 1994 should be given a clear mandate to protect the interests of the Region. They called on Member States to participate actively in all stages of the preparatory process and the negotiations.
Meeting with the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
The Heads of Government and the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund addressed, inter alia, the policies which might be adopted by CARICOM Member States in the context of the current and anticipated international economic environment and the economic situation of the CARICOM Member States. They welcomed the commitment given by the Managing Director of the Fund to provide a programme of technical assistance for training, particularly in key aspects of international financial management, to convene a symposium on the peculiar problems facing CARICOM Member States, and to keep the problems related to the international indebtedness of CARICOM Member States under review in the context of the high percentage of current income which certain countries are required to devote to debt servicing. There was also an expressed willingness on all sides to explore the concept of “collective adjustment” through which technical experts from the Fund and the Region would work together to define ways in which the integration dimension of adjustment could be addressed in a manner that complements and reinforces national adjustment measures.
Global Conference on Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States
The Heads of Government received from Barbados a Report on preparations for the United Nations Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States which is to be held in Barbados from 25 April – 6 May 1994.
The Heads of Government recalled the strong support for the Conference made at their Thirteenth Meeting in July 1992. They reiterated that the Global Conference was not only important for all small developing states but also for the entire international community. They underscored that the Conference represented the first effort to implement a major recommendation from the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) and a test of the international community’s commitment to address jointly the imperative of sustainable development.
The Heads of Government confirmed the intention of their Governments to participate fully in the Conference and to do all they could to facilitate and encourage the activities of the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), especially the exhibition on Sustainable Technology.
A New Global Humanitarian Order
The Heads of Government called for the establishment of a New Global Humanitarian Order to respond to the widening gap separating the rich and poor within the countries of the North and South, and between the North and South. They were of the opinion that if the problem of poverty, in all its forms, were not addressed, it would result in pervasive alienation, frustration and hopelessness posing increasing threats to democratic governments and to international peace and security.
They therefore pledged to work at the regional level and in concert with the high-level intergovernmental group established by the Commonwealth Heads of Government in October 1993, to advance this concept globally.
The Heads of Government supported the call for accelerated reduction in expenditure on arms both in the North and the South and to use the savings as a peace dividend to finance jobs, bring about poverty alleviation, enhance other social benefits and give debt relief to the developing countries.
Joint representation at UNESCO
The Heads of Government received a proposal from the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Education and Culture (SCME) for joint representation of Member States at UNESCO, and agreed on a formula for the funding of this initiative.
The Heads of Government endorsed the proposal of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to host CARIFESTA VI during the period 19 August – 2 September 1995, and agreed that Trinidad and Tobago should proceed with the implementation of that project.
The Heads of Government expressed their appreciation for the skilful manner by which Prime Minister Mitchell steered the Conference to a successful conclusion. They also requested him to convey to the Government and People of St. Vincent and the Grenadines their gratitude for the very warm hospitality extended to them during their stay.
Date and Venue for the Fifteenth Meeting Of the Conference
The Heads of Government recalled the kind offer of Barbados to host the Fifteenth Regular Meeting of the Conference on 4 – 7 July 1994, and looked forward to advancing the work of the Community at that Meeting.