The Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community held its Seventh Meeting in Georgetown, Guyana from 1st to 4th July, 1986. All thirteen Member States were represented, as follows – The Hon.. Lester Bird, Deputy Prime Minister, Antigua and Barbuda; The Rt. Hon. Sir Lynden O. Pindling, Prime Minister, The Bahamas; The Rt. Hon. Manuel Esquivel, Prime Minister, Belize; The Hon. Mary Eugenia Charles, Prime Minister, Dominica; The Hon. Ben Jones, Minister of External Affairs and Legal Affairs, Grenada; His Excellency Hugh Desmond Hoyte, S.C., President of Guyana; The Rt. Hon. Edward Seaga, Prime Minister, Prime Minister, Jamaica; The Hon. John Osborne, Chief Minister, Montserrat; Dr. The Rt. Hon. Kennedy Simmonds, Prime Minister, Saint Christopher and Nevis; The Rt. Hon. John Compton, Prime Minister , Saint Lucia; The Rt. Hon. James Mitchell, Prime Minister, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and the Hon. George Chambers, Prime Minister, Trinidad and Tobago.
Mr. Roderick Rainford, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community, served as Chairman during the Inaugural Session.
Heads of Government observed one minute’s silence as a mark of respect to the late President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, His Excellency L.F.S. Burnham.
Heads of Government expressed their sorrow at the death of the late Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Dr. A.Z. Preston.
The Opening Address at the Inaugural Ceremony was given by His Excellency Hugh Desmond Hoyte S.C., President of Guyana. In his address, the President stated that, to his mind, the Community had arrived at a stage where a prime requirement for its further advance was the establishment of effective and diversified linkages among the economies of Member States. He therefore called upon Member Governments to move rapidly and resolutely towards the concept of an integrated regional economy.
President Hoyte continued, “As hosts, we in Guyana entertain the hope that the Conference will be a landmark in the progress of our Community. We look forward to Conference adopting clear and implementable decisions that involve the identification of practical projects and programmes, within a well-defined framework of time and policy – decisions that will quicken the pace of regional integration and bring about substantial advances towards the goal of satisfying the needs of our people and securing for them ample opportunity for development of their personalities in all their wonderful and manifold aspects”.
Speeches were also delivered at the opening ceremony by The Rt. Hon. Errol Barrow, The Rt. Hon. Manuel Esquivel, The Hon. John Osborne and Dr. the Rt. Hon. Kennedy Simmonds.
The President of Guyana was elected by acclamation to chair the Meeting.
The Conference conducted its business through a Plenary, a Caucus of Heads of Government and an Economic and General Committee.
Heads of Government received and considered recommendations from the Twenty-Eighth Meeting of the Commonwealth Market Council, the Tenth Meeting of the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Finance, the Twelfth Meeting of the Standing Committee for Ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs, the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of Ministers responsible for Health and the Meeting of Attorneys-General and Ministers responsible for Legal Affairs on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
International Economic Issues
Heads of Government examined the impact of recent international developments on the economics of the Region. They observed the constant, if modest, signs of economic recovery in most OECS countries and, in the case of the United States, the more significant but more volatile movement of the economic indicators. They noted with concern that these signs of recovery in the developed Western economies were not accompanied, as had been the case in the past, by an improvement in the prices for primary commodities in which CARICOM Member States had a traditional interest. They recognized that this lack of relationship between improved economic performance in the developed countries and resultant economic benefits to commodity-exporting countries was partly a consequence of structural and technological changes in the economies of the former. They also noted that the recovery had produced opportunities for exports of non-traditional products, but expressed concern that these could be thwarted by a growing trend of protectionism in a number of developed countries.
In this connection, Heads of Government welcomed the opportunities which the New Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations under the auspices of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) could provide for the reduction of trade barriers. They noted, however, the initiatives taken by some countries to introduce new areas for consideration in the negotiations. In the light of these new trends, Heads of Government resolved to take steps to secure the interests of CARICOM countries.
Structural Adjustment and Financing for Development and Reconstruction
In the light of the understanding reached at Nassau in 1984, Heads of Government commended those Member States which had since introduced rigorous structural adjustment programmes designed to strengthen the competitiveness of their economies and to deal with a seriously adverse balance-of-payments and fiscal situation. The Heads felt that the countries of the Region had adequately satisfied the conditions for an immediate and substantially enlarged inflow of external financing from both official and private sources at levels and on terms appropriate to their unique circumstances and very urgent development and reconstruction needs.
In that context, Heads of Government expressed concern over the continuing heavy debt servicing burden being experienced by several of their countries. They strongly endorsed the call being made by a very substantial number of developing countries and in many fora, for immediate action by creditor Governments and institutions to achieve a meeting of minds with indebted countries on debt relief and other related measures which will open the way for an early reactivation of their development.
The Georgetown Declaration on the Deepening and Widening of CARICOM
Heads of Government adopted a declaration on the deepening and widening of CARICOM which embodies a number of decisions with respect to encouraging the development of regional production and to the negotiation of trade arrangements with neighbouring countries in the Caribbean and Latin America.
In relation to the development of regional production, Heads of Government felt that the stage had now been reached for making more concrete efforts to stimulate regional investment, particularly through the development of joint ventures. In that context, they decided to adopt and introduce a CARICOM Enterprise Regime and a Protocol on Regional Industrial Programming before their next Meeting. They also recognized that efforts must continue to formulate a truly Common External Tariff and Common Protective Policy against third countries and a revised Regime for the Harmonisation of Fiscal Incentives to Industry, taking into account in both exercises the need to produce at competitive prices for both regional and extra-regional markets.
Heads of Government agreed that work should be speeded up on the negotiation of trade and economic cooperation agreements between CARICOM and the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Suriname. They also gave a similar directive with regard to the negotiation of arrangements with the countries of the Andean Pact, Brazil and Mexico. The Heads of Government further stressed the importance of taking initiatives for closer trade relations with the French and Netherlands Antilles.
Heads of Government noted the trends in intra-regional trade and the status of the implementation of the package of measures agreed to in Nassau, The Bahamas for the resuscitation of such trade. They agreed to take all necessary steps to complete the implementation of these measures and, within the limits of their foreign exchange management policies and the provisions of the Treaty, to identify and remove all non-tariff restrictions on intra-regional trade. They further agreed that Member States which imposed stamp duties on imports would review such measures with a view to their discontinuance in respect of CARICOM trade.
Opportunity was taken at the Conference to advance a number of trading matters in bilateral discussions. Conference took note of the understandings reached on those issues.
In reviewing regional trade in agricultural commodities, Heads of Government took note of a number of specific problems with respect to trade in beef, sugar, arrowroot and oils and fats.
Heads of Government decided on steps to be taken in dealing with the problems raised.
Heads of Government agreed to establish a CARICOM Export Credit Facility, in recognition of the importance of payment and credit arrangements in support of extra-regional and intra-regional trade flows. The Facility will provide pre-shipment and post-shipment credit to regional exporters particularly for products marketed extra-regionally. Heads of Government requested the President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Secretary-General of CARICOM to approach the donor community with a view towards mobilising the external resources required for the Facility. They called upon the international community, particularly financing agencies, to render all possible support to enable them to launch the Facility by 1st July 1987.
The Heads also noted the efforts being made to find a workable solution to the difficulties which currently inhibit the resuscitation of the CARICOM Multilateral Clearing Facility (CMCF).
Programming of Resources for Regional Projects under Lome 111
Heads of Government noted with satisfaction, the entry into force of the Lome 111 Convention on 1st May 1986. They identified agriculture, tourism, transport and communication, human resource development and trade promotion as the priority sectors for the allocation of resources under the Regional Indicative Programme. Such indicative allocations were agreed on the basis of special consideration for the LDCs in the programming process. Conference directed that the Programme should be submitted to the European Economic Community (EEC) by the end of July 1986.
Caribbean Basin Initiative
Heads of Government discussed the review of the Caribbean Basin Initiative undertaken at its request by a Technical Group. It noted the recommendations which had been submitted by the Council and requested the Council to keep these recommendations under review. They agreed to coordinate their efforts in Washington with a view to making optimal use of the benefits available under CBI.
Heads of Government reviewed the proposal by the Government of Canada for a scheme for trade and economic co-operation for the Commonwealth Caribbean.
Whilst acknowledging the potential benefits and value of the programme, they resolved to pursue further discussions with the Government of Canada on certain proposals made by CARICOM countries and not taken into account in the CARIBCAN provisions.
Protection of the Region against The Results of Accidents in Nuclear Plants
Heads of Government expressed concern at the several recent nuclear accidents and the potential danger posed to the security, health and economic well-being of Caribbean States by nuclear plants in the Hemisphere and at possible utilisation of the Region for the purpose of dumping toxic and nuclear waste.
They instructed the Secretariat to develop, in consultation with regional and other authorities, a regional strategy of nuclear disaster preparedness and agreed to refer to Pan Caribbean Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Project (PCDPPP) the task of developing a component to deal with emergencies in the event of nuclear accidents.
They requested CARICOM States Members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to represent the Region’s interests in the forthcoming IAEA-sponsored negotiations on nuclear safety, special attention being paid to safeguards, monitoring and standards. Heads of Government noted that the IAEA was developing international standards for nuclear power plants which included such considerations as siting, design and quality assurance.
They agreed that CARICOM States would mount an initiative in all appropriate international for a to bring their concerns to the attention of the wider international community.
The Problems of Small States
Heads of Government welcomed the profound and wide-ranging examination into the vulnerability of small states undertaken by a Commonwealth Study Group. The Group had examined the negative effect on the security, sovereignty and development of small states resulting from the military, economic, administrative and other weaknesses inherent in their smallness. In the case of the Caribbean, Heads of Government were convinced that regional co-operation, optimal mobilisation of the Region’s human and natural resources and the full utilisation of its geographical and other advantages could help to secure for the people of the Region the continued strengthening of their independence, sovereignty and integrity. Heads of Government committed themselves once again to this and decided to continue their examinations of the measures proposed in the Report with a view to implementing those appropriate to the Region.
Heads of Government expressed their growing concern at the increase in the illicit use of drugs and increased drug trafficking, including the trans-shipment of drugs through Member States. They noted the harmful effect of these illegal activities on the health, security, morality and general well-being of the Caribbean peoples.
Heads of Government pledged to intensify their individual and collective efforts in the elaboration and implementation of programmes of prevention, detection, eradication, prosecution, treatment and rehabilitation. They noted that the success of such programmes required the highest possible level of public awareness and of collaboration among agencies at the national and regional levels. They called on the CARICOM Secretariat to work closely with the OECS Secretariat and other regional agencies in the continued development and implementation of a regional approach.
They agreed to a request from the Government of Suriname for a close relationship between Suriname and the Caribbean Community on this matter.
Heads of Government also noted a number of initiatives aimed at galvanizing the efforts of the international community to remove the scourge of illicit drugs from contemporary life. In particular, they pledged the full and coordinated participation of the Caribbean Community in the work, including where possible the preparatory work, of the United Nations International Conference on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Vienna in June 1987, the Inter-regional Meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies in Vienna in July/August 1986 and the Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting in July/August 1986.
Heads of Government were conscious that Governments alone could not successfully tackle the problem. They therefore called for the widest possible participation of community leaders and groups in the fight to save present and future generations of Caribbean peoples from the hazards of illicit drugs.
International Peace and Security: General Review
Heads of Government reviewed developments in the international political environment since their last meeting and expressed concern that many of these developments signified an escalation of international tension and a deterioration in the state of global security. They were concerned at the persistence of many long-standing conflicts inn various regions of the world and at new examples of the resort to the threat and use of force in the conduct of inter-state relations.
Heads of Government also expressed their deep concern at the growing use of international terrorism as a political tactic. They appealed to the international community to undertake collective action in dealing with the problem of international terrorism and to seek more positive and peaceful solutions to all international problems.
Heads of Government were encouraged by the meeting in Geneva in November 1985 of the President of the United States and the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and by the subsequent exchange of proposals for the reduction in the arsenals of the nuclear powers. They stressed that the pursuit of détente and disarmament was not just a convenient diplomatic option but an imperative for the well being of the international community and indeed for the very survival of the planet.
Heads of Government received a report from the Prime Minister of Belize on the latest situation relating to the claim by Guatemala to Belizean territory. They reiterated the unwavering support of the Caribbean Community for the Government and people of Belize in their continuing efforts to preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of their country.
Heads of Government adhered to their previously stated position on the controversy which had arisen as a result of the territorial claim advanced by Venezuela against Guyana.
They noted the attempts being made by the two countries to resolve the issues and encouraged their continuing search for a peaceful solution. They commended the parties for cooperating fully with the Secretary-General of the United Nations in the discharge of the mandate, given under the terms of the Geneva Agreement of 1966, to choose a means of settlement.
Heads of Government welcomed the recent improvement in Guyana/Venezuela relations and expressed the hope that this would lead to increased friendship and cooperation between them.
CARICOM/Latin America Relations
Heads of Government welcomed the decision of the Organization of American States (OAS) to amend its constitution to assure the right of Belize and Guyana to membership in that Organization by 1990. In reaffirming the need for full adherence to the principle of universality of membership, Heads of Government called for the elimination of exclusionary provisions in other regional treaties and arrangements.
Heads of Government were concerned that a definite settlement of the conflict in Central America had not yet been reached. Persuaded, however, that a peaceful solution could only be achieved through a process of dialogue and negotiation, they reaffirmed their support for the Contadora Group and encouraged it to persist in its efforts, in collaboration with the Lima Support Group, to obtain an agreement aimed at securing peace, stability and development for the countries of Central America. They called on all States to give full support to this diplomatic pursuit.
Heads of Government restated their abhorrence of the apartheid system. They condemned the contemptuous defiance of international public opinion shown by the racist regime in Pretoria and have issued a Declaration on Southern Africa which is attached.
In noting the heightened efforts of the people of South Africa to liberate themselves from the evils of apartheid, they have reaffirmed the solidarity of their peoples with the just struggle of all peoples and countries in the Southern Africa Region.
Heads of Government have agreed that should the Commonwealth Review Meeting, to be held in August, fail to reach unanimity on the further sanctions envisaged in the Nassau Accord, the Prime Minister of The Bahamas, as Chairman of the last Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, should call for an emergency meeting of all Commonwealth Heads of Government. CARICOM Heads of Government mandated the Chairman of their Conference to transmit copies of their Declaration to all Commonwealth Heads of Government attending the Review Meeting.
Heads of Government also reiterated their condemnation of the continued illegal occupation of Namibia and the wanton exploitation of its resources by the racist regime in South Africa. They once again called for the speedy implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 435 (1978) to bring Namibia to early independence.
The Heads of Government reiterated the need for an intensification of efforts to achieve a just and lasting settlement on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions. They reaffirmed their conviction that such a settlement could best be attained within a framework which included respect for the rights of the Palestinian People, in particular their right to a homeland of their own, Israel’s withdrawal from occupied Arab territories, and the acceptance of the right of all States in the region to a peaceful existence within safe, secure and reorganized borders.
They also reiterated their concern over the continuing conflict between Iran and Iraq and expressed the hope that the parties would heed the call of the international community to desist from further hostilities and to seek a negotiated settlement.
Post of Secretary-General
Mr. Roderick Rainford agreed to the proposal of the Heads of Government that he continue to serve as Secretary-General for a further two years to complete a full five-year term.
Date and Venue of Next Meeting
Conference accepted the offer of the Government of Saint Lucia to host the Eighth Regular Meeting during the week ending July 4, 1987.
Conference also accepted the offer of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda to host its Ninth Regular Meeting during the week commencing July 4, 1988.
The Heads of Government expressed their satisfaction over the atmosphere of co-operation which characterised the deliberations and led to successful conclusions for the strengthening of the Community and Common Market. The Heads paid tribute to His Excellency Desmond Hoyte for his skilful Chairmanship of the Conference and expressed their deep appreciation to the Government and people of Guyana for their warm and generous hospitality.