The Ninth Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community was held at Deep Bay, Antigua and Barbuda from 4 to 8 July 1988. For the second successive year, and the second time in the history of the Conference, all member States were represented at the level of their Heads of Government. The heads of Government in attendance were: DR. the Rt. Hon. Vere Bird, Prime Minister, Antigua and Barbuda; The Rt. Hon. Sir Lynden O. Pindling, Prime Minister, the Bahamas; the Rt. Hon. L. Erskine Sandiford, Prime Minister, Barbados; The Rt. Hon. Manuel Esquivel, Prime Minister, Belize; the Rt. Hon. Mary Eugenia Charles, Prime Minister, Dominica; The Rt. Hon. Herbert Blaize, Prime Minister, Grenada; His Excellency Hugh Desmond Hoyte, SC., President, Guyana; The Rt. Hon. Edward Seaga, Prime Minister, Jamaica; Hon. John Osborne, Chief Minister, Montserrat; Dr. The Rt. Hon. Kennedy Simmonds, Prime Minister, St. Kitts and Nevis; The Rt. Hon. John Compton, Prime Minister, Saint Lucia, The Rt. Hon. James Mitchell, Prime Minster, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and The Hon. A.N.R. Robinson, Prime Minister, Trinidad and Tobago.
Mr. Roderick Rainford, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community, chaired the Inaugural Session. Dr. The Rt. Hon. Vere Bird, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, delivered the Opening Address. Prime Minister Bird referred to the launching of the Caribbean Free Trade Area (CARIFTA) in Antigua and Barbuda twenty-three years earlier by himself and then Prime Ministers Barrow and Burnham “with the purpose of rebuilding Caribbean Unit”. He traced the growth in the membership of CARIFTA, its advance into the Caribbean Community, the establishment of the Caribbean Development Bank and the formation of sub-regional organisations among the Leeward and Windward Islands.
The Prime Minister added: “When I reflect on my almost fifty years of association with the history of the Caribbean, when I think of the men with whom I sat in Council shaping the direction of the Region, when I consider the long and hard road we travelled, I have no doubt that the ambition for a West Indian nation, which my generation inherited in the 1940’s from Marryshow and Rawle, was right. I also have no doubt that it remains right for this generation to maintain, as a desirable goal, the prospect of a vibrant Caribbean nation in the future”.
Speeches were also delivered by the Rt. Hon. Sir Lynden O. Pindling, Prime Minister, The Bahamas; The Hon. L. Erskine Sandiford, Prime Minister, Barbados; The Rt. Hon. Manuel Esquivel, Prime Minister, Belize; The Rt. Hon. Herbert Blaize, Prime Minister, Grenada and the Rt. Hon. John G. M. Compton, Prime Minister, Saint Lucia.
Conference sent a cable to the members of the West Indian cricket team, congratulating them on the way in which they had brought to the Region through their victory in the Third Test Match against England at Old Trafford.
The Meeting received messages of greetings and congratulations from His Excellency Sir Shirdat Ramphal, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth His Excellency Mr. Daniel Ortega Saavedra, President of Nicaragua; His Excellency Mr. Ramsawack Shankar, President of Suriname; His Excellency Mr. Leo Tindmans, Minister of External Affairs of Belgium; Mr. Mostafa K. Tolba, Executive director of the United Nations Environment programme; and Mr. Yves Renard, President of the Caribbean Conservation Association.
DEVELOPMENTS IN THE COMMUNITY
The Heads of Government reviewed the developments in the economies of the Region during 1987 and were heartened by the signs of positive economic growth in most Member States. They were concerned, however, that some member States continued to experience difficulties with balance-of-payments, external debt and debt servicing. They observed that, while efforts towards restructuring the economies and improving national economic management had begun to show signs of progress, the external environment still played a decisive role in determining the performance of the performance of the regional economy. They recognised, therefore, that the relatively reasonable performance in 1987 provided no opportunity a relaxation of policy and effort.
The Heads also expressed satisfaction at the improvement in intra regional trade recorded in the last year. They noted the recent action taken by some Member States to remove the barriers to the flow of trade within the Region, and reiterated their commitment to a return to free and unrestricted trade within the Common Market, in accordance with the provisions of the Annex to the Treaty, with effect from 1 October 1988, taking into account those circumstances which might require special treatment.
The Heads of Government were encouraged by the steps being taken to strengthen the institutional arrangements in the Community for the promotion of regional industrial development. In this context, Conference welcomed the positive steps taken to establish the CARICOM Enterprise Regime, which would come into force as soon as two more ratifications were obtained, and welcomed the strong interest of the private sector in that Agreement.
They further noted that Guyana, Jamaica and Montserrat had also signed the Protocol for the CARICOM Industrial Programming Scheme.
Year of Increased Food production
Conference agreed to declare 1990 the “Year of CARICOM Increased Food Production”, with particular emphasis on the relevant national and regional programmes and projects.
Protection of the Environment
The Heads of Government reiterated their commitment to the Caribbean environment. Without prejudice to the right of each State to pursue its own national development goals as it deemed appropriate, they undertook to pay greater attention to environmental considerations in the formulation of development policies, plans and programmes.
Caribbean Export Bank (CXB)
Conference reaffirmed the need for export credit and insurance facilities to support the Region’s drive to increase non-traditional exports, but agree to defer, for the time being, the establishment of the Caribbean Export Bank to an independent regional institution. They agreed instead to request the Caribbean Development Bank to consider establishing a facility to provide export credit in priority areas and to mobilise the necessary funds for the operation of the facility.
Conference noted the draft air transportation agreement between Governments of CARICOM States and the UK, tabled by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and was informed that the UK Government had circulated a draft agreement to some of the Eastern Caribbean Governments.
Conference agreed that a meeting of the Eastern Caribbean Governments would be convened at Ministerial level to discuss the two drafts to arrive at a common negotiation position.
Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse Control
Heads commended the progress made toward the implementation of the Regional Programme for Drug Abuse Abatement and Control and endorsed the direction of the Programme taken so far.
In particular, they welcomed the assistance being given by the European Economic Community to carry forward, in a timely manner, regional activities in preventive education and public information. They noted that support might be forthcoming from other donors for activities in law enforcement training. They recalled that these areas had been identified for priority attention by their Eight Meeting.
Heads of Government reaffirmed their total commitment to the against drug abuse in the Region and against all illegal trafficking in drugs, whether within the Caribbean or beyond. They expressed their willingness to cooperate with other countries or the established of internationally acceptable mechanisms to bring offenders to justice.
Heads of Government, however, voiced deep concern regarding the inadequate level of effectiveness of campaigns by major consumer societies against drug users within their own borders. It is the unanimous view that the battle against dangerous drugs cannot be successful without an effective campaign against users, involving education, surveillance and interdiction, as well as the eradication of the production of dangerous drugs in major consumer countries.
Regional Science and Technology Policy
Conference endorsed the Regional Science and Technology Policy approved by the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Science and Technology and noted that the Policy gave priority to the training of our human resources; applied research and development in areas to improve agricultural production; linking research and development with the productive and services sectors and the profitable development of the natural resources of the Region; the enhancement of systems, including telecommunications, to enable the acquisition and exchange of technology information on the Region; and the greater efficiency in the acquisition and in the use of technology.
Conference agreed that the Regional Science and Technology Policy should be regarded as a high priority and mandated the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Science and Technology to continue its deliberations on the implementation of the Regional Science and Technology Policy.
Regional Programmes and Institutions
Conference received and noted a status report on the review of the functioning of regional organisations and of the programmes administered by the Caribbean community Secretariat. Conference agreed that the review, which would exclude the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) as well as the Caribbean Agricultural and Rural Development Advisory and Training Service (CARDATS), would examine the objectives and performance of the organisations and the Secretariat and make recommendations on the most cost-effective means of attaining the agreed objectives.
The Heads received a progress report on the CARIFESTA programme and approved the recommendations formulated by the Seventh meeting of the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Education. The Heads agreed that a Meeting of Ministers responsible for Culture should b convened in Jamaica to determine the most cost-effective and culturally beneficial structure for promoting future CARIFESTAS, beginning with the CARIFESTA to be held in Jamaica in 1989.
Conference noted the important role being played by the tourist industry in the economies of a growing number of CARICOM Member States. The Heads of Government recognised the potential linkages between tourism and such other sectors as agriculture and transport, and the value of increased cooperation in this area among Member States. To this end, conference agreed to a proposal by the Government of Belize for the establishment of a Standing committee of Ministers responsible for Tourism as an Institution of the Community.
PRESIDENCY OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The Heads of Government reaffirmed their sponsorship of the candidature of Dame Nita Barrow for election to the Presidency of the Forty-third Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). And pledged their continued efforts to secure her election to that position.
They emphasised that No CARICOM country had ever represented the Latin America and Caribbean Group in that capacity. They stressed the principle of fairness and equitable distribution and expressed the wish that consensus might soon be achieved within the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) on this matter, to demonstrate regional cohesion and strengthen regional relations in which the strong desire of all CARICOM countries to play their rightful part within the UN system will be fully realised.
EXTERNAL RELATIONS OF THE COMMUNITY
Relations with Latin America
The Heads of Government reviewed the Community’s relations with Latin America during the past year, and reaffirmed their desire to strengthen those relations, particularly in the areas of trade and economic cooperation.
They noted that all CARICOM States Members of the Organisation of American States had ratified the Protocol of Cartagena which is designed to permit the entry of Belize and Guyana to the OAS. The Heads urged those OAS Member States which have not yet done so, to ratify the Protocol at the earliest opportunity.
The Heads of Government expressed satisfaction with the recent political developments in Surinam and welcomed that country’s return to representative democracy. They expressed their support for Suriname’s effort to obtain international assistance within a framework of national sovereignty, for the fulfilment of its development aspirations.
Relations with Canada
Having reviewed the operations of CARIBCAN, Conference agreed on a set of proposals designed to improve the commercial aspects of the arrangement and reiterated its appeal to the Government of Canada to introduce an effective investment component into the arrangement.
Caribbean Basin Initiative
Conference discussed the recent developments relating to the Caribbean Basin Initiative. Heads of Government noted that a number of reviews of CBI had been conducted by visiting US congressional missions during 1987.thy observed that these missions had corroborated their own assessment that, while the CBI had the potential to economic development in the Region, actual performance had fallen below expectation, primarily because the existing legislation had failed to deal adequately with critical areas such as investments and financial assistance, and had excluded several products in which the Region had a production capacity and also because of protectionist measures introduced or threatened form time to time. Th Heads of Government further observed that action such as the reduction in the sugar quotas and administrative and legislative measures against CBI products have created an atmosphere of uncertainty for both trade and investment.
The Heads of Government therefore welcomed the introduction of new legislation aimed at correcting some of these deficiencies, and expressed the hope that the Bills would receive the support of Congress and the Administration, and would be passed in a form designed to make the maximum contribution to improving the overall impact of the CBI.
Relations with the European Economic Community
The Conference reviewed the performance of the Region under the Lome III convention. They expressed concern at the slow pace of implementation of the financial assistance programme under this convention, particularly with respect to the regional programme. They noted the developments in Europe toward the creation of a Single European market by 1992 and expressed grave concern at the possible impact on Caribbean exports to this market, especially bananas. They accordingly noted the mandate from the Common market Council, for the Secretariat to undertake a study on the probable impact of this development on the Caribbean. The Heads of Government agreed to keep the situation under review.
The Heads also noted that the negotiations for the Successor Arrangement to Lome III would be launched in October 1988 and endorsed the Caribbean position for these negotiations.
Conference expressed satisfaction with, and gave encouragement to, the efforts being made by the Region, through the CBD, to mobilise concessionary and conventional financing from Japan and to open up joint venture avenues with that country. Conference strongly supported an intensification of these initiatives.
WIDENING OF THE COMMUNITY
The Heads of Government welcomed the interest shown by a number of States and organisations in establishing formal relations with the Caribbean Community.
They noted the statement of the Chief Minister of Anguilla of his country’s intention to consider applying for membership of the Community.
The Heads agreed to the participation of Suriname as observers in the deliberations of the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Transportation.
They agreed to the participation of the Netherlands Antilles as observers in the deliberations of the Conference of Ministers responsible for Health and of the Standing Committees of Ministers responsible for Agriculture, Education, Labour, Science and Technology, and Transportation.
Conference considered a letter from the Turks and Caicos Islands requesting a discussion on that country’s links with the Community, agreed to the commencement of those discussions and directed that a report on the matter be presented at its Tenth Meeting.
Conference also agreed to grant the West Indies Junior Chamber Liaison Stature with the Caribbean Community Secretariat, thus entitling that organisation to regular consultation with the Secretariat with a view to the involvement of the Jaycees in appropriate Community programmes.
CARICOM IN THE YEAR 2000
The Heads of Government considered the report which they had commissioned on the development prospects of the Caribbean Region to the year 2000. They noted that the report assessed the prospects for the Caribbean against the back-drop of the fundamental structural changes taking place in the financial, technological, geopolitical and other aspects of the global environment, and the expanding working age population of the Region.
The Heads recognised that those changes, while creating uncertainty and major challenges, also provided opportunities to foster development. They further recognised that a number of policy issues needed to be resolved to enable Caribbean economies to be more competitive by the twenty-first century.
The Heads reaffirmed their commitment to seek higher levels of national economic performance, accelerated human resource development and increased employment opportunities and to improve the range, price and quality of regional products. They observed, however, that an intensification of regional cooperation and coordination would enhance the attainment of these objectives.
They also observed that development, in the present circumstances, would require the combined effort of government, academia, labour and the private sector. They therefore agreed that the report should be subject to broad-based discussions in each Member State to arrive at a national understanding on a future plan of action. Heads agreed to a similar process at the regional level which would seek to distil, from the various national reviews, a plan of action for the Region.
Heads of Government publicly recognised the assistance given by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the University of the West Indies in undertaking the study, and the work of the tem coordinated by Prof. Bourne, which prepared the report.
LAW OF THE SEA
The Heads underscored the importance the attached to the United Nations convention on the Law of the Sea. They reiterated the hope that it may soon enter into force and urged all States which has not yet done so, to ratify that Convention as soon as possible.
The Heads noted with satisfaction the progress being made in the work of the Preparatory Commission for the International Sea-Bed Authority and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
They endorsed a programme of action for the coming year in relation to the proposal for cooperation among Member States, in respect of access to their fisheries zones and management of their exclusive economic zones.
INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC ISSUES
In their review of the Caribbean development within the context of the changing global environment, the heads of Government noted the uncertainties faced by the Region in both the trading and financial spheres. They observed that Caribbean countries faced difficulties in obtaining access to international finance, particularly in the light of the reduced availability of loan financing and the increased cost of debt finance. They further noted that the threat of graduation form assistance from the multilateral development financial institutions crested greater uncertainties about the future of financing Caribbean development. They recognised that, while there was need to improve their international financial management, inflows of financial assistance on reasonable terms and conditions were still required from the international financial community.
They called on the international community to give more sympathetic treatment to the problems of small developing countries of the Caribbean.
Heads of Government considered the serious economic and financial difficulties now being faced by Trinidad and Tobago as a result of the collapse of world oil prices and took note of the fact that both international financial institutions and bilateral aid donors seemed not to be seized of the urgency and importance of these problems not only to Trinidad and Tobago but also to CARICOM as a whole. They recalled that during that country’s oil boom, Trinidad and Tobago had provided other countries with significant amount of financial inflows and buoyant markets for gods and services. They therefore called upon the relevant international financial institutions and bilateral aid donors to provide external inflows, adequate in volume and on appropriately concessional terms, to Trinidad and Tobago to facilitate the ongoing process of adjustment and economic recovery in that country.
With respect to trade, the Heads observed that the Caribbean countries all had an interest in the attainment of a stable and equitable international trade and economic environment. They looked forward to a positive outcome of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations which would further strengthen the international trading system and make it more responsive to the needs of developing countries such as those in the Caribbean.
The Heads noted several important initiatives being taken within the international system to strengthen and foster the growth of south-south trade. In this connection, Conference noted the signature by two Member States – Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago – in April 1988, of the Framework Agreement establishing the Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries (GSTP). Conference reaffirmed the commitment to Member States to this effort at self-reliance through economic cooperation by the Group of 77, and looked forward to the launching of the Second Round of Negotiations under the GSTP, in which fuller participation by CARICOM Member States was anticipated.
Conference expressed its support for the objectives and the work of the South Commission and noted that Member States would make individual voluntary financial pledges to the Commission.
DEVELOPMENTS IN THE HEMISPHERE
Heads noted with satisfaction the developments now taking place in Belize’s relations with the Republic of Guatemala. They welcomed the formation of the Joint Commission of Officials of both Governments with the additional participation of the United Kingdom charged with the preparation of a comprehensive draft treaty which will provide a just and honourable solution to the long-standing difficulties between them.
Heads reaffirmed their full support for Belize’s independence and territorial integrity. They also reaffirmed their full support for the new initiatives towards negotiating a settlement that will not include land cession on the part of Belize.
Heads called on the Government of the United Kingdom to continue to give Belize all the support necessary to achieve a solution that will enable Belize and Guatemala to develop normal peaceful bilateral relations, as should exist between neighbouring sovereign and independent countries.
The Heads welcomed the continued improvement in relations between Guyana and Venezuela, as demonstrated in the expanding and deepening network of bilateral cooperation.
With regard the controversy between the two countries, the Heads also noted the reiteration, by the Presidents of Guyana and Venezuela, of their determination to cooperate fully with the Secretary-General of the United Nations in the fulfilment of the mandate given by him by Article IV (2) of the Geneva Agreement.
Conference commended the efforts being made by the Governments and peoples of Central America to bring peace to that sub-region, within the framework of the Esquipulas II Sapoa Accords. The Heads of Government encouraged the continuation of these efforts and called for maximum international support for them.
They regarded these initiatives, together with similar initiatives in other parts of the Region, as evidence of both the determination and the ability of the people of the Caribbean and Latin America to devise their own solutions to their problems.
The Heads reiterated their call for a political solution to the problems in Central America on the basis of full respect for the principles of independence, sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.
Conference took note of the special plan of economic cooperation for Central America approved by the United Nations, and was particularly pleased at the inclusion of Belize in the plan.
The Situation in Panama
The Heads of Government reviewed the recent developments In Panama and reaffirmed the sovereign right of the Panamanian people to determine their own destiny, free from external pressures.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL ISSUES
The Heads noted with much concern the dangerous situation existing in Southern Africa, which constituted a threat to peace and security, both in that region and beyond it. They recognised that at the core of this situation lay the racist Pretoria Regime and the means by which it seeks to ensure the perpetuation of white minority rule in South Africa and Namibia.
They viewed with alarm, the recent measures adopted by the Pretoria regime in its continued attempt to stifle all opposition to apartheid, such as the insulation of the country from scrutiny by the international press and the banning of anti-apartheid organisations. They deplored the proposed judicial murder of the Sharpville six and the assassination of Dulcie September in Paris.
They pointed out that such actions gave further confirmation of the Regime’s insistence on the preservation of white minority rule at all costs, and of the absence of any desire for a peaceful settlement.
The Heads reaffirmed their support for the just struggle of the oppressed peoples of South Africa and Namibia, who remain undeterred in spite of the intensified brutality of the Pretoria Regime. They reiterated their call for these people to enjoy their inalienable right to live in freedom and dignity. In this regard, they expressed support for the current dialogue aimed at the withdrawal of South African troops from Angola and for the independence of Namibia, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 435, and expressed the hope that the momentum begun would continue without interruption.
The Heads, while recognising the widening support which the struggle was gaining internationally, called on the international community to maintain its vigilance and to intensify pressure on the Pretoria Regime for the early dismantling of the abhorrent system of apartheid, and for the ushering in of a regime of peace, freedom and justice in Southern Africa.
The Heads also called for the deepening and widening use of sanctions which, on the basis of factual data relating to the decline of the South African economy, is a most effective strategy top bring South Africa to the negotiating table.
The Heads recalled that on July 18 next Nelson Mandela will be celebrating his 70th birthday and that 1988 marks the twenty-sixth year of his physical captivity. They formulated sincerest wished to him on the occasion of his birthday and renewed their call for his immediate and unconditional release.
Apartheid in Sport
The Heads reviewed the current status of the International convention Against Apartheid in Sport, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1985. They urged all States which had not already done so, to take the necessary steps, as a matter of urgency to become parties to the Convention, which came into force on 3 April 1988.
The Middle East
The Heads of Government noted that since their last Meeting, the situation in the Middle East had deteriorated. They regretted the abuse of human rights and the loss of life associated with the upheavals in the Occupied Territories.
This emphasizes the need for Conference for peace as called for by the United Nations for finding a just and lasting settlement to the Middle East question guaranteeing the right of all states and peoples in the region to exist in peace within recognised and secure borders.
The Gulf War
The heads of Government expressed their sadness at the massive loss of life occasioned by the worsening situation in the Gulf. They called on Iran and Iraq to use all available means to arrive at an early resolution to the conflict.
The Conference recorded its extreme dismay at the recent shooting down of Iranian civilian aircraft. The Heads expressed sympathy, on behalf of the peoples of the Caribbean Community to the relatives of the deceased.
The Heads welcomed the Geneva Agreement. They called for the strict implementation of the Agreement by all parties concerned so as to ensue the restoration of conditions of peace and stability in the Region.
Disarmament and International Security
Reviewing the current state of international relations, the Heads expressed the view that the new tendency that appeared to be developing in relations between the United States and the Soviet Union held the promise of reducing tension, not only between those two countries, but internationally as well. In this regard, they were encouraged by the conclusion of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty banning intermediate-range nuclear weapons from Europe.
The Heads expressed the hope that this limited disarmament initiative and the new climate of understanding accompanying it, and its further manifestations in the recent Moscow Summit, would together lead to the creation of an atmosphere in which disarmament agreements of wider application could be concluded.
Notwithstanding the disappointing results of the Third Special Session of the United devoted to Disarmament, the Heads urged the continuation of the new direction in relations between the Super Powers as an important and welcome contribution to the quest for disarmament; particularly in its nuclear aspect, and the strengthening of international security in general.
The Heads of Government affirmed their support for the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic and the right of the people of the Republic to self-determination and the independence in accordance with the relevant resolution of the United Nations and of the Organisation of African Unity and called Morocco and the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, to negotiate just and lasting solution to the conflict in Western Sahara.
DATE AND VENUE OF NEXT MEETING
The Heads of Government were pleased to accept the offer by the Government of Grenada to host the Tenth Meeting of Conference, which should open on the evening of 3 July 1989 and continue until 7 July 1989. The Heads also accepted the offer of Dominica to host the Eleventh Meeting of Conference in 1990.