The Sixth Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community was held in Belize City, Belize on 16–17 February 1995.
Heads of Government in attendance were: Hon. Lester Bird, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antigua and Barbuda; The Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham, Prime Minister of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas; Hon. Owen Arthur, Prime Minister of Barbados; The Rt. Hon. Manuel Esquivel, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Belize; His Excellency Dr. Cheddie Jagan, President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana; The Rt. Hon. Percival J. Patterson, Prime Minister of Jamaica; Dr. the Rt. Hon. Kennedy Simmonds, Prime Minister and Minister and Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs, Finance and CARICOM Affairs, St. Kitts and Nevis; The Rt. Hon. John Compton, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Planning and Development, Saint Lucia; The Rt. Hon. Sir James Mitchell, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Hon. Patrick Manning, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.
Grenada was represented by Senator the Hon. Dennis Noel, Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs and National Security.
Dominica and Montserrat were not represented at the Conference.
The Prime Minister of Barbados, outgoing Chairman of the Conference, delivered a statement at the Opening Ceremony. In his statement he noted that the past six months had been a challenging period for him as Chairman of the Conference but expressed full confidence in his successor’s ability to lead the integration movement forward.
The Meeting was officially opened by Rt. Hon. Manuel Esquivel, Prime Minister of Belize. In his opening statement the Prime Minister welcomed the delegates to the Meeting and pointed to the many challenges facing the Community in preparing for the Twenty-First Century. In this context, he noted that –
|“We are currently working against the clock to ensure continued viability, sustainable development and competitiveness in order to meet the challenge of trade liberalisation. We in CARICOM are under pressure in view of the potential loss of the benefits we enjoy under the United States Caribbean Basin Initiative and other trade agreements with the NAFTA countries. We must therefore, urgently re-examine out structural preparedness to survive and participate as strong players in the new environment of hemispheric trade.”|
The Secretary-General of CARICOM also delivered a statement.
Discussions with the President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
Heads of Government welcomed Dr. Enrique Iglesias, President of the IDB. In his introduction, the Chairman stated that the IDB had stood by CARICOM countries during the periods of the Region’s distress. He outlined a number of issues and development challenges presently facing the Community which he noted coincided with the major areas of focus in the IDB.
The major issues raised were: access by CARICOM Member States to IDB resources and facilities; the situation regarding access to resources by CARICOM Member States which are not members of the IDB; the debt issue; policy discussion and consultation between CARICOM Member States and the IDB; IDB support for certain priority activities. The full text of the Chairman’s statement is being issued separately.
In response, Dr. Iglesias noted the progress made to date by CARICOM States in the area of economic reform but noted that the progress was still incomplete. He informed the Conference of the steps being taken by the Bank to make it more effective in responding to the needs of its borrowing countries and to changes in the international economic environment.
He also outlined the steps being taken by the Bank to address the problem of debt.
Heads of Government note the undertaking by the President of the IDB that his Organisation would increase its contacts with regional officials given the peculiar needs of the Region’s economies.
Heads of Government welcomed the Agreement signed on 16 February 1995 between the IDS and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) which would allow the smaller CARICOM non-Member States of the IDB to access the Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF). They also recorded their appreciation for the arrangements concluded with the IDB which would assist CARICOM Governments to undertake the necessary follow-up activities arising out of decisions taken at the Summit of the Americas.
Commission of Global Governance
Heads of Government received and welcomed a presentation by Sir Shridath Ramphal, Co-Chairman of the Commission of Global Governance. Supplementary presentations were made by the following regional representatives on the Commission; Dr. Oscar Arias, Dr. Manuel Camacho Solis, and Dr. Enrique Iglesias. Heads of Government agreed that the issues raised were of special significance to the Caribbean Community and mandated the Twenty-First Meeting of the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs schedules to be held in May 1995, and the Forty-Third Meeting of the Common Market Council, to examine the Commission’s Report and to report to the Sixteenth Conference of Heads of Government which is scheduled to meet in July 1995.
Single Market and Economy
Heads of Government recalled the decision taken at their Fifteenth Meeting to place emphasis on the establishment of the Single Market and Economy and to make it the centrepiece of the discussions at their Sixth Inter-Sessional Meeting. In discussing this issue, they received a report from the Prime Minister of Barbados, the Head of Government with lead responsibility for the work towards the establishment of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy. The defining elements of a Single Market are those which permit free movement of, and similar treatment among Member States for goods, services and factors of production; the presentation of a common front to the rest of the world in relation to external economic and trade issues; effective payments for goods and services (current account) and for capital transactions (capital account) with minimum additional cost or opportunity for arbitrage; and comparable conditions for economic operators in different parts of the Region. The report focussed on these four main themes.
Heads of Government agreed that with the decision to establish a Free Trade Area of the Americas, it was necessary to determine what must be done to bring about new forms of collaboration among themselves including the posture of their countries in their interface with the world community.
They also agreed that proper instruments needed to be put in place in order to take advantage of time to their countries. There was also need to enact legislation, which they recognised would take time. A number of other complex issues need to be grappled with. In this regard, they noted the lack of human resources particularly in certain critical fields.
Heads of Government remained convinced however, that there was urgent need to advance the work of the members of the Common Market towards the development of a Single Market and Economy. Towards this end, they entered into a detailed examination of the following issues:
Heads of Government welcomed the actions taken by Member States since the last Meeting of the Conference to complete outstanding commitments to free trade which included the recent ratification by Antigua and Barbuda and Jamaica of the new Article 29A to facilitate unimpeded trade in agricultural commodities; the entry into force on 6 February of the revised Schedule IX on Oils and Fats following ratification by Antigua and Barbuda and Montserrat; the commitment from Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados to remove the licensing requirement for CARICOM goods by 1 April; and information that all Member States have now removed the discriminatory element in the application of salesperson licences, where they apply to CARICOM salespersons.
Rules of Origin
The amended Rules of Origin which have been agreed for goods for Common Market treatment were implemented in 1993.
Right to Establish, Own and Manager Production Facilities and to Provide Services on the Same Basis as Nationals
Heads of Government reaffirmed the need to provide for the right of CARICOM nationals to establish enterprise in Member States and to provide services on the same basis as nationals of Member States. They endorsed the work being done by the Secretariat to revise the Treaty of Chaguaramas to provide for such treatment under the Single Market and Economy.
Heads of Government mandated the Secretariat to re-examine the decision of the Conference on free movement of skills and the issue of removing the requirement for alien landholding licences and to make detailed recommendation for action to the Sixteenth Meeting of the Conference in July 1995.
Right to Transfer Capital, Dividends and Profits and to Raise Resources on the Capital Markets
>Heads of Government received an interim report of the Working group on Financing for Caribbean Development on the development of capital markets in CARICOM. They anticipated that the final report will be available for their consideration in July 1995.
Common External Tariff
Heads of Government commended the Governments of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago on their implementation of the second phase of the CET on 1 January 1995 and the implementation of the first phase by Antigua and Barbuda on the same date. They welcomed the commitments by Barbados, Grenada and Guyana to implement the second phase on 1 April, 30 May and 30 June 1995 respectively.
They noted that the Member States of the OECS are awaiting the results of a study being undertaken by the OECS Secretariat to determine the impact of the CET on their revenue base and industrial sector. Belize requested and was granted a deferment of action to April 1996, at which point the second phase would be implemented.
Effective Payments for Goods and Services For Capital Transactions
Heads of Government reaffirmed their desire to restore convertibility of currencies for all countries within the region regarding this as an essential first step towards the establishment of a CARICOM Monetary Union.
They noted that the major constraint to monetary union was the absence of economic convergence in the Region. In this regard, they accepted the proposal by the Council of Central Bank Governors to establish a mechanism to monitor the degree of convergence in macro-economic policies and performance in the Region.
Avoidance of Multiple Taxation and Application of a Single Rate of Tax
Heads of Government noted that the Intra-CARICOM Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) agreed in July 1994 had been signed by nine Member States. The DTA entered into effect on 1 January 1995 and is now operational between Belize, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago which have ratified the Agreement.
Movement of Skilled Persons
Heads of Government agreed that the arrangement to permit graduates of the University of the West Indies, University of Guyana and the University of the Virgin Islands to enter and work in their territories with out the requirement of a Work Permit, was a necessary first step in this process of the movement of graduates and skilled persons. They agreed that this right should be less discriminatory, and accordingly mandated the Secretariat to examine the situation in respect of CARICOM nationals from other Universities, and to report to the Sixteenth Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government.
Summit on Tourism, Trade and Transport
Heads of Government reviewed the decision taken at the Fifteenth Meeting of the Conference in July 1994, that a Second Tourism Summit be convened in 1995 and that this Summit should be on an ACS-wide basis. They reiterated the importance of tourism to the economies of the Region but agreed that the issues to be discussed at the Summit should be expanded to include Trade and Transport. They also accepted the offer of Trinidad and Tobago to host the Summit over a two-day period during the week prior to CARIFESTA scheduled to begin on 19 August 1995.
Law of the Sea
Heads of Government welcomed the entry into force of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on 17 November 1994. They noted that the first substantive meeting of the International Seabed Authority will take place from 27 February to 17 March 1995 and urged all CARICOM Member States to attend the meeting and to play an active role in the work of the Authority and its various Committees.
Summit of the Americas
Heads of Government reaffirmed their commitment to the Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action adopted at the Summit of the Americas and approved a strategy and programme to be pursued for the region’s effective execution of the follow-up actions arising from the Summit. In this regard, several Heads of Government indicated a willingness to assume responsibility for advancing the Regions’ position in specific areas. The Conference also agreed to promote broad-based discussions nationally and regionally on the issues arising from the Summit and the follow-up activities.
Heads of Government expressed regret that the subject of debt has not received adequate consideration during the Summit of the Americas.
They noted the need for financial resources to promote development and the treatment of the debt problem. They looked forward to the proposals of the Committee on Hemispheric Financial Issues which would review the debt problem. Acknowledging the constraining impact of the debt burden on the Region, they urged concerted action to secure debt relief, soft loans, debt rescheduling, grant aid and a development fund, as an imperative for economic growth.
Heads of Government were unanimous in their view that the subject of debt be kept high on the Region’s agenda.
Relations with North America
Heads of Government expressed their full support and appreciation for the Bill entitled “Caribbean Basin Trade Security Act” which was introduced at the first session of the 104th Congress by Congressman Crane and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of Congressmen. They observed that the Bill would strengthen economic ties between the USA and the CBI region and could stimulate economic growth by providing the assurance required by potential investors. They urged the US administration and the legislative bodies to give their full support to ensure the early passage of the Bill.
Heads of Government noted that the Summit proposed with the Prime Minister of Canada appears unlikely to be held in 1995 due to scheduling constraints. They anticipated that the Summit will be convened early in 1996.
Heads of Government agreed that the Seventh Meeting of the CARICOM/Canada Joint Trade and Economic Committee (JTEC) should be convened during 1995 and mandated the Secretariat to discuss with the relevant authorities in Canada the possibility for such a meeting being held in September 1995.
Heads of Government expressed their strong concern that the US trade Representative had decided to invite suggestions on the areas for retaliatory action against the European Union and to initiate actions against Columbia and Costa Rica which had implemented the Framework Agreement on Bananas with the European Union, on the strength of the USTR’s preliminary finding that the EU Banana Regime was discriminatory. They reiterated their position that this action against the Regime would have a direct and devastating impact on the Caribbean Banana Industry.
They recalled the agreement reached in Miami with the United States Trade Representative to establish a technical working group to initiate dialogue on this matter and agreed to propose to the US that the first meeting be held on 2 – 3 March 1995 in Saint Lucia.
Heads of Government received a detailed report from the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda on the successful restructuring measures which have achieved a significant improvement in the operating performance of LIAT since responsibility for the management of the airline was assumed by the Governments of Antigua and Barbuda and Trinidad and Tobago. Against this background, the two Governments tabled a joint proposal for the privatisation of the airline in the shortest possible time on the basis of majority ownership by regional investors including employees. The proposal included the assumption of a substantial portion of the liabilities of the airline by the shareholder governments in exchange for the forgiveness by the airline of the subventions owed by the shareholder governments.
Heads of Government agreed in principle to the joint proposal, and to the extension of the term of office of the current Board of Directors and executive management of the airline to 30 June 1995 or until the privatisation of the airline is achieved, whichever is sooner.
In a related matter, Heads of Government noted that eight Member States had indicated their acceptance of the text of the proposed Multilateral Agreement concerning the operation of air services within the Caribbean Community. This Agreement provides for the formulation of the route rights of Member States and for the Agreement’s entry into force upon the deposit of the eighth instrument of ratification with the Secretary-General of the Community.
World Summit on Social Development
Heads of Government discussed the Region’s position with regard to the World Summit on Social Development which is scheduled to take place in Copenhagen, Denmark in March 1995. They received a delegation from the Caribbean policy Development Committee (CPDC), an umbrella body of regional NGOs, which have been involved in the preparatory activities for the Conference and which had articulated a regional position for consideration by the Heads of Government.
Heads of Government agreed that the issues before the Summit were of great concern to the sustainable development of the Region and also agreed that there should be the maximum possible participation by CARICOM Member States in the Summit’s deliberations. They agreed that a global approach was necessary to effect a partnership between the developed and developing countries to develop a strategy for debt relief, human development and economic growth.
Heads of Government received a report on the Ministerial Mission to Haiti. They noted that the Mission had been well received by the Government of Haiti and that a number of areas had been identified in which CARICOM could make available its experience and technical assistance.
Heads of Government agreed that, should the Government of Haiti formally make a request to the Community, CARICOM States would be willing to assist Haiti in the following areas, among others; assistance to the Electoral Council similar to that extended in 1990-1991; assistance in the area of protocol and conference services; assistance in the reform of the public administrative systems in Haiti.
They decided that the Community’s future relations with Haiti would be carried forward by a CARICOM/Haiti Joint Commission which would in the first instance concentrate on collaboration in education, agriculture, health, public administration, tourism, trade and culture.
Heads of Government reiterated that the potential of the Caribbean Region’s development rested on the development of all the countries of the Region. They welcomed the assistance being provided by the IDB to Haiti, particularly the Bank’s commitment to that country through the accelerated disbursement of funds.
The Association of Caribbean States
Heads of Government noted developments related to the operationalisation of the Association of Caribbean States. They welcomed the ratification by five CARICOM Member States, of the Convention establishing the ACS and the progress made by the remaining signatory States towards early ratification. They looked forward to the early entry into force of the Convention.
Movement of Hazardous Substances
Heads of Government agreed to the following statement:
The Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, meeting at their Sixth Inter-Sessional Meeting, expressed their very grave concern about the recurring threat to the Region posed by any shipment of hazardous and radioactive material through the Caribbean Sea.
The Heads condemn any such shipment taking place and call on those parties involved to desist from using the Caribbean Sea, with its fragile ecosystems for such purpose or in any similar manner that threatens our people, resources, economic activities and the fundamental interests of our countries.
The Heads of Government are particularly disturbed that in spite of their previous condemnation of such traffic in view of clear indications of the dangers to the Region posed by the transit of such hazardous material, this prospect continues to arise.
The Heads of Government emphatically reiterate their position articulated since 1992:
|1. that shipments of plutonium and other radioactive or hazardous materials should not traverse the Caribbean Sea;
2. that the Caribbean should not be used for the testing of nuclear devices; and
3. that the Caribbean Sea should be declared a nuclear free zone for purposes of shipment, storing or dumping of any radioactive or hazardous substances or toxic waste.”
The Heads of Government call on those involved in the shipment of hazardous and toxic substances to respect the clear position of the Caribbean Community in this matter now and in the future.
Heads of Government received a report from the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belize on the status of Belize-Guatemala relations and reaffirmed their solidarity and strong support for Belize’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Heads of Government agreed to approve the application by Suriname for membership in the Caribbean Community and Common Market with effect from the Sixteenth Meeting of the Conference on terms and conditions agreed by both sides.
Heads of Government reiterated their firm support for the candidature of Ambassador Christopher Thomas of Trinidad and Tobago, for his re-election to the position of Assistant Secretary-General of the OAS.
Heads of Government were given an update by Trinidad and Tobago on plans for CARIFESTA VI and Member States were invited to participate as vigorously as they had done previously.
Heads of Government took the opportunity to congratulate the Rt. Hon. John Compton on forty years of distinguished and exemplary service to Saint Lucia as a Legislator. They expressed their appreciation for his tremendous contribution to, and leadership in the regional integration movement. They presented him with a gift in recognition of the years he has spent in service to Saint Lucia and to the wider Community.
Heads of Government expressed their appreciation to the Government and people of Belize for the warm welcome and hospitality accorded them during their stay in Belize. They expressed satisfaction for the efficient arrangements made for the conduct of their Meeting. They expressed the view that the opportunity for greater contact and understanding between the people of Belize and the people of the other CARICOM states had served to strengthen further the bonds of solidarity and commitment to the regional integration process.
Date and Venue of the Sixteenth Meeting Of the Conference
Heads of Government agreed that the Sixteenth Meeting of the Conference would be held at the Headquarters of the Caribbean Community, Georgetown, Guyana from 4 – 7 July 1995.