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COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE TWENTY-FIRST MEETING OF THE CONFERENCE OF HEADS OF GOVERNMENT OF THE CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY (CARICOM), 2-5 July 2000, Canouan, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

The Twenty First Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), was held in Canouan, St. Vincent and the Grenadines on 2-5 July 2000.

Heads of Government in attendance were: the Hon. Lester Bird, Prime Minister, Antigua and Barbuda; the Rt. Hon. Owen Arthur, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Barbados; the Hon. Said Musa, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs, Belize; the Hon. Roosevelt Douglas, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Legal Affairs, Labour and Carib Affairs, Dominica; Dr. the Hon. Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister and Minister of National Security and Information, Grenada; His Excellency Bharrat Jagdeo, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana; His Excellency Réné Preval, President of the Republic of Haiti; the Rt. Hon. Percival J. Patterson, Prime Minister, Jamaica; the Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Development, Planning and National Security, St. Kitts and Nevis; Dr. the Hon. Kenny D. Anthony, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs and Information, Saint Lucia; the Rt. Hon. Sir James Mitchell, Prime Minister, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; His Excellency Dr. Jules A. Wijdenbosch, President of the Republic of Suriname; and the Hon. Basdeo Panday, Prime Minister, Trinidad and Tobago.

The Hon. Janet Bostwick, Attorney-General and Minister of Foreign Affairs, represented the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
The Hon. Brunel Meade, Minister of Agriculture, Housing, Land and the Environment represented Montserrat.
Also in attendance was the Hon. Derek H. E. Taylor, Chief Minister of the Turks and Caicos Islands, while the Hon. Victor Banks, Minister of Finance represented Anguilla.

Heads of Government also welcomed His Excellency Ricardo Cabrisas, Minister of Economic and International Affairs of Cuba to their discussions on the specific items related to the external economic negotiations of the Community of interest to Cuba.

The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, His Excellency Don Mc Kinnon, and the Secretary-General of the Organisation of American States (OAS), His Excellency Dr. Cesar Gaviria, were also welcomed to the Conference as participants in the discussions on specific items of interest to their respective Organisations.

OPENING CEREMONY

The Opening Ceremony of the Twenty-First Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community was staged on Sunday 2 July 2000 at the Casino Building, Carenage Beach Hotel and Golf Club, and was chaired by Mr. Edwin Carrington, Secretary-General, Caribbean Community who delivered the Opening Remarks. Statements were delivered by the Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and immediate past Chairman of the Community; H.E. Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana; Dr. the Hon. Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, and by the Rt. Hon. Sir James Mitchell, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Chairman of the Conference of Heads of Government.

The opening presentations put into perspective the full slate of regional issues critical to the future development of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Among them were the full participation of Civil Society in the new economic integration process; the establishment of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the escalating HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Region and matters of governance as well as border conflicts as they affect Member States.

The Chairman of the Conference, Sir James Mitchell, was lauded for his long and distinguished service to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and to the Caribbean Community. He was commended for the bold initiative taken by his Government in bringing the Twenty-first Summit of CARICOM Heads of Government to Canouan – a small, pristine, Grenadine Island – the smallest to host a Heads of Government Conference.

MESSAGES RECEIVED

Heads of Government noted the messages received for the success of their deliberations. They were appreciative of the tribute paid by the United Nations Secretary-General to CARICOM for choosing the path of regional cooperation in addressing challenges confronting the Region and his pledge that the UN would continue to support the Region in its endeavours, particularly as they relate to the development of the Single Market and Economy, disaster mitigation and the regional strategy to combat HIV/AIDS.

Heads of Government also received a message from the President of Cuba, His Excellency Fidel Castro Ruiz, on the signing of the Trade Agreement between the Caribbean Community and Cuba in which the President stated that Cuba will always remember the commendable efforts of the then recently independent Caribbean nations that led the struggle against the diplomatic isolation and economic blockade imposed on his country.

SIGNING OF AGREEMENTS

A Trade and Economic Agreement between CARICOM and Cuba was signed by the Chairman of the Conference and the Minister of Economic and International Affairs of Cuba. This Agreement will provide the framework for the promotion and expansion of trade between the Member States of CARICOM and Cuba.

ISSUES RELATING TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE COMMUNITY

CARICOM SINGLE MARKET AND ECONOMY

The Legal Framework

Heads of Government confirmed that the basic legal framework for the establishment of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy will be in place by the end of 2000, noting that all nine Protocols have been signed by Member States and of these,

1. four are in effect, being provisionally applied – Protocol 1: The Organs and Institutional Arrangements of the Community; Protocol II: Establishment, Services and Capital; Protocol IV: Trade Policy; and Protocol VII: Disadvantaged Countries, Regions and Sectors;

2. three – Protocol III: Industrial Policy; Protocol V: Agricultural Policy; and Protocol VI: Transport Policy – require action by one Member State to enable them to be provisionally applied and come into effect; and

3. the last two – Protocol VIII: Competition Policy, Consumer Protection, Dumping and Subsidies; and Protocol IX: Disputes Settlement – which were signed at the Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference in March 2000, require the declaration of provisional application by Member States to enable them to come into effect.

These Protocols are currently being integrated into a Revised Treaty to be completed by the end of December 2000.

Implementation

With the review of the Treaty almost completed, Heads of Government focused their attention during this Twenty-First Meeting on implementation of the Protocols, particularly Protocols II and VII. In this regard the action necessary at the national and regional levels to give effect to the provisions of the Protocols, is being guided by the Inter-Governmental Task Force, as mandated by the Conference.

With respect to Protocol II, Heads of Government reviewed the progress towards the establishment of the Programmes for the removal of restrictions and agreed on the time-table for continuing the process with Joint Meetings of the Councils for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), Finance and Planning (COFAP), and Human and Social Development (COHSOD) in October and December 2000. The Regional Consultation of the stake holders in the public and private sectors on the implementation of the CSME is scheduled for November, 2000.

Heads of Government in carrying out their first responsibility in accordance with the provisions of Protocol VII, have designated as Disadvantaged Countries, the LDCs as identified by Article III of the Treaty of Chaguaramas (Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines) and Guyana identified by the international community as a Highly Indebted Poor Country. This Protocol provides for support to countries, regions and sectors so designated.

Caribbean Court of Justice

Heads of Government deliberated on the Agreement establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice and determined that the Agreement would be signed by all Member States before the end of the year at a special ceremony convened for the purpose in Port-of-Spain where the Headquarters of the Court is to be located. They also decided that the public education programme relating to the Court should be intensified during the period before and after the signing of the Agreement in order to strengthen the public consensus on the Court. Heads of Government also established a Sub-Committee under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia to supervise the finalisation of the instruments relating to the establishment of the Court. They also endorsed a proposal of the Legal Affairs Committee to convene, before 15 August 2000, a Meeting of Presidents of Bar and Law Associations of the Community to consider further proposals for enhancing the Agreement establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice. Heads of Government agreed that the signing of the Agreement would signal the commencement of the period during which legal and constitutional arrangements would be put in place for ratification and implementation of the Agreement.

STRENGTHENING OF THE INSTITUTIONS WITHIN THE COMMUNITY

Recalling its October 1999 decision for a Regional Encounter with the “widest possible participation” of Civil Society as a means of incorporating their views into the vision for the future development of the Community, Heads of Government endorsed the following plans for the Encounter which will be under the theme “Forward Together”.

The Encounter, the first of its kind for the decade, is scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2001. Participation will include representatives of the private sector, labour organisations, non-governmental organisations including Youth, Academia, and religious organisations.

The points for discussion will be drawn from issues submitted by the public and to this end, advertisements will be placed in newspapers and a special web site created to garner the public’s views.

A broad-based Planning Committee for the Conference will be established within six weeks with a mandate to determine the format and organisation of the Conference, participation and points of discussion, as well as to identify funding sources to support the convening of the Conference.

BELIZE/GUATEMALA

Heads of Government received a report from the Prime Minister of Belize on the recent reactivation of Guatemala’s territorial claim.

They recalled the statement on the border dispute between Belize and Guatemala issued at their Eleventh Inter-Sessional Meeting on 14 March 2000 at Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis. Heads of Government also recalled United Nations General Assembly Resolution 35/20 of 11 November 1980, which reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of Belize to self-determination, independence and territorial integrity and called on all parties concerned to respect that right. They further recalled that in 1991 the Republic of Guatemala recognised the independence and sovereignty of Belize, and further, that the government of Guatemala has stated that it will not resort to the use or threat of use of force to pursue its claim.

Heads of Government were therefore deeply disturbed upon learning of Guatemala’s refusal to recognise the border and the repeated incidents of incursions upon Belize’s territory by elements of Guatemala’s Armed Forces, in flagrant violation of the norms of International law.

Heads of Government reaffirmed the Community’s unequivocal support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belize in accordance with its long established and internationally recognised borders.

They noted that technical level meetings between the two countries had taken place in Washington, D.C. USA with the support of and in the presence of the Secretary-General of the Organisation of American States (OAS). Heads of Government expressed their concern that the confidence-building measures to ease tension along the common border and to establish a definitive settlement of the dispute, agreed to at these technical level meetings, had not yet been embarked upon. They urged Guatemala to honour these agreements to ensure a climate favourable to a peaceful resolution of the border dispute.

Heads of Government urged both parties to continue genuine and serious political dialogue to arrive at a definitive settlement to the long standing dispute, in accordance with the principles and practices of the United Nations and with full respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belize.

GUYANA/SURINAME

Heads of Government discussed the border relations issue between Guyana and Suriname and issued the attached Statement on the situation. In addition, the Conference decided that, in relation to the undertakings within that Statement, the Prime Minister of Jamaica would continue his service as a Facilitator in respect of the more recent and urgent differences.

GUYANA/VENEZUELA

Heads of Government expressed their satisfaction with the continued efforts being made by Guyana and Venezuela in advancing their programmes of functional cooperation under the High Level Bilateral Commission.

They noted the importance of this mechanism to the strengthening of relations between the two countries.

Heads of Government noted with concern however, reports that Venezuela had protested against the signing of an Agreement in May 2000 establishing the company Beal-Guyana Launch Services, for the development of a rocket launch site in the Essequibo which has attracted much needed foreign investment to contribute to Guyana’s national development efforts.

Heads of Government reaffirmed their full support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Guyana and for a peaceful and satisfactory resolution of the controversy under the aegis of the United Nations Secretary-General, a process to which both Guyana and Venezuela remained committed.

They welcomed the news conveyed by the Commonwealth Secretary-General that a Meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Committee on Guyana would be convened in September 2000.

ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES:
FOLLOW-UP TO THE GRAND BEACH ACCORD

Heads of Government noted the strong views expressed at the Opening Ceremony of the Conference which decried any unconstitutional actions designed to remove a duly-elected government from office.

They received the Report of the CARICOM Mission to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as the legal opinion submitted by Mr Maurice King, former Attorney-General of Barbados and a member of the CARICOM Mission, on the constitutional issues arising from the passage of the Pensions and Gratuities Bill for Parliamentarians. They regarded the opinion as a basis for bringing the issues to a successful conclusion. Accordingly, they noted that the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines will submit these documents to the Christian Council, as required by the Grand Beach Accord of May 4, 2000.

RECENT ELECTORAL DEVELOPMENTS IN HAITI

Heads of Government received a report from Sir John Compton, Leader of the recent CARICOM Electoral Observer Mission to Haiti, on post-electoral developments in that country. Heads of Government also received an update on the post-electoral developments from the President of the Republic of Haiti, His Excellency Réné Preval. In addition, they took note of the information presented by the OAS Secretary-General on this matter.

Heads of Government noted that the Mission observed shortcomings in the organisation and administrative arrangements on the day of the vote but were unable to find sufficient evidence that either the registration process or the conduct of the poll was so fundamentally flawed as to violate the process as a whole. The Mission therefore concluded that the electoral process and accompanying arrangements allowed the people of Haiti to express their will.

While expressing their satisfaction in the electoral process, Heads of Government were concerned about the different interpretations of the Electoral Law to determine the elected members to the Senate.

Heads of Government therefore decided to remain engaged in the process in Haiti, and agreed to offer assistance to that country in its efforts to resolve these post-electoral difficulties.

Heads of Government reaffirmed the need for Haiti to strengthen democracy and democratic institutions in the process of its accession to the Caribbean Community.

THE ESCALATING HIV/AIDS SITUATION IN THE REGION

Heads of Government expressed deep concern that AIDS has become the leading cause of death in both males and females in the 25-44 age group in the Region.

Recognising that the HIV/AIDS epidemic now threatens to seriously undermine the human resource development efforts, reversing the gains made in social and economic development in the Region over the past three decades, Heads of Government agreed to give full support to the regional strategic plan to mount an expanded response to combat the epidemic.

Heads of Government agreed to use all possible means to secure financial resources required for the implementation of the regional strategic plan and to become fully involved in the promotion of preventive strategies at the national and regional levels.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Heads of Government reiterated the importance of Science and Technology in the context of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy and for ensuring competitiveness in a global economy. The importance of networking among the Science and Technology institutions within the Community to ensure optimisation of resources was emphasised. The Caribbean Council for Science and Technology (CCST ) the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the CARICOM Secretariat have been requested to promote the networking among institutions and to undertake the necessary co-ordinating action to facilitate the mobilisation of resources for the implementation of regional project initiatives in respect of identified priority areas to include Agriculture and Food Security, Information Technology, Marine Resources Management and the development of Small and Medium-scale Enterprises.

EXTERNAL ECONOMIC RELATIONS OF THE COMMUNITY

External Economic Negotiations

Heads of Government welcomed the presentation by the Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM) of strategic approaches for CARICOM as it enters the second stage of external negotiations over the period 2002-2005. The presentation included a broad overview of existing trends as well as projections of future developments. Heads of Government were reminded of the inter-relatedness of the several negotiations and the vicissitudes of global trends and developments, many of which posed serious threats to the future development of the Region.

Heads of Government were informed of approaches to alternative trade arrangements with the European Union, the strategy for the next phase of the FTAA negotiations, and of the unfolding negotiations in the World Trade Organisation. They emphasised the need for sustained vigilance by the Region in securing the implementation of beneficial agreements already negotiated and for more vigorous action by the regional private sector, both in this regard and generally.

Heads of Government looked forward to further examination of these issues at an early meeting of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on External Negotiations.

Caribbean Trade Links

Heads of Government welcomed the signing of a Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement with Cuba. They reiterated that this arrangement along with the recent conclusion of the negotiations of the Protocol for the implementation of the CARICOM/Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement are vital steps in the continued process of developing strategic alliances and in strengthening relations in the Caribbean Region.

WTO Waiver

Heads of Government expressed deep concern at the continued delay in obtaining the WTO waiver for the trade provisions of the new ACP-EU Partnership Agreement and at the unacceptable linkage of this issue by certain WTO Members to the outstanding banana issue. They emphasised the need for the issues to be resolved as expeditiously as possible.

Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act

Heads of Government took note of the recent passage of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act by the United States Congress. While they welcomed the potential benefits which could be derived from the Arrangement, they noted that beneficiary countries are still to be designated and were concerned that there are several conditions attached to eligibility which could reduce the effectiveness of the Arrangement.

OECD Harmful Tax Policy

Heads of Government, having held an extensive exchange of views on the matter of the OECD Harmful Tax Policy blacklisting of 35 countries, including 10 CARICOM Countries, agreed to issue a statement on this matter which is attached.

EU/ACP Banana Regime

Heads of Government reviewed the current state of the regional banana industry, in particular the situation in the European market. They noted that the Chairman of the Conference and Prime Minister with responsibility for the subject, Sir James Mitchell, had written to President Clinton on behalf of the Community seeking his support for an efficacious resolution of the situation in the industry, taking into account the commitments given in the CARICOM/United States Summit in Barbados in May 1997.

Heads of Government were concerned at the attempt by certain Governments to use the request for a WTO waiver for the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement to force the settlement to the EU Banana Import Regime.

Heads of Government reiterated their commitment to finding a mutually acceptable resolution to the banana dispute, which would secure the interests of the regional industry.

With regard to the development of the industry, and in furtherance of relations with the EU, Heads of Government were advised that their colleagues from the Windward Islands, will meet with the donor community, on Thursday 6 July, 2000, in Canouan, to discuss progress on the Windward Islands Action Plan for Bananas. The meeting will focus on activities to facilitate further allocations and disbursements of resources under the Special Framework Assistance Programme for the industry.

SUGAR

Heads of Government reiterated the critical importance of the sugar industry to many Member States, in which it was considered not only an industry, but a way of life.

They agreed on the need for continued collaboration with the Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC) and other national and regional bodies to consolidate the region’s position with regard to sugar in future negotiations.

SUMMITS

The South Summit

Heads of Government recognized the recently concluded South Summit as an historic occasion. They emphasized the opportunity it presented for the Heads of State/Government of the Group of 77 to identify the challenges facing developing countries and formulate a strategy to safeguard their collective interests in a changing global environment.

Heads of Government expressed satisfaction that the collective efforts of the Governments of Caribbean countries contributed to a final declaration and plan of action which reflected the priority concerns of the Region. These include support for:

  • Special and differential treatment for small economies
  • Debt relief especially for those heavily indebted countries
  • WTO waiver for ACP/EU Partnership Agreement
  • Reform of the international financial architecture to encourage transparency and equitable development

Heads of Government acknowledged the need for the South to strengthen its coordinating capacity, and in this regard, took note of the proposal to establish a South Coordinating Commission to strengthen the collective negotiating capability of the South. They noted, in this regard, the lead role being played by the Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Rt. Hon. P.J. Patterson, and the advisory role being played by the Chief Negotiator of the Regional Negotiating Machinery, Sir Shridath Ramphal.

Heads of Government agreed on the need to follow this process closely to ensure that any facilitating mechanism that might be developed as a result of this initiative is compatible with its regional interests.

The UN Millennium Summit

Heads of Government discussed preparations for the Millennium Summit of the United Nations, which is to take place in New York from September 6 – 8, 2000. In this regard they took note of the report of the UN Secretary-General: “We the Peoples: the Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century“, which provides the central theme for dialogue at the Summit.

Heads of Government agreed that the Summit would provide an excellent opportunity to bring to bear on the discussions, a CARICOM perspective on the future role and priorities of the United Nations, and in particular on the manner in which the Organisation can best respond to the developmental and security concerns of small states, which constitute the majority of its membership. They agreed that the Region would coordinate its position to ensure that its priority concerns are fully articulated in the Formal Debate of the Summit, and in the Four Inter-Active Round Tables, and adequately reflected in the text of the Final Declaration to be issued at the end of the Summit.

Proposed Canada-CARICOM Summit

Heads of Government welcomed the proposal by the Government of Canada to convene a Canada/CARICOM Summit at a mutually convenient time prior to the 3rd Summit of the Americas, to take place in Quebec City, Canada in 2001.

SMALL STATES

Heads of Government welcomed the completion of the study by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the World Bank on the special characteristics and vulnerability of small states. They were convinced that the report provided a policy framework within which small economies could be facilitated to participate beneficially in a globalised world driven by sophisticated technology and characterised by mega-blocs and mega-corporations.

They were of the view that the framework needed to be operationalised, and in this regard they noted with pleasure the statement from the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth that his Organisation retained a strong interest in the implementation of the recommendations of the Report. Heads of Government also noted the information that the World Bank was to set up a Unit focussing on issues of relevance to small states and had decided to convene annual consultations on these issues.

CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY AWARDS

Order of the Caribbean Community

The Conference of Heads of Government agreed to confer the Order of the Caribbean Community to the following Caribbean Nationals who have earned the highest regional recognition as leaders par excellence in their respective fields and who through their achievements have contributed to improving the quality of life and raising the self esteem of the peoples of the Caribbean, while projecting the excellence of the Caribbean people on the world scene

  • Sir George Alleyne
  • Rt. Hon. George Price
  • Mr. Francisco Slinger, Hon. D.Lit (UWI)(The MightySparrow)

The conferment ceremony will take place at the Twelfth Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference scheduled for Barbados in February 2001.

WEST INDIES CRICKET

Heads of Government in acknowledging that cricket is the principal expression of the Region’s cultural heritage agreed to develop and implement strategies and structures consistent with this policy. They accepted the resolutions emanating from the Regional Cricket Conference with respect to Institutional Strengthening, Cricket Education, Player Centeredness; the West Indies Players Association; People Participation, Gender; and the World Cup 2007.

The Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on Cricket was charged with the responsibility of considering the full report from the Cricket Conference, holding consultations with West Indian Cricket Board (WICB) and other relevant institutions as deemed necessary and preparing recommendations in time for the consideration of the Conference at its next Inter-Sessional Meeting scheduled for 2001.

With respect to World Cup 2007, Heads of Government stressed the need for urgent and immediate consultations with the WICB to establish the requirements to be met so that Governments could be apprised at the earliest opportunity of their obligations in this regard.

Heads of Government recognised the sterling contribution of the West Indies Cricket Board to the development of West Indies cricket.

CARIFESTA VII: CULTURE AND THE ARTS: REFLECTING,
CONSOLIDATING AND MOVING ON,17-26 AUGUST 2000

Heads of Government congratulated the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis for the preparatory arrangements related to the planning and organization of CARIFESTA VII. They noted that several countries had already nominated their delegations and urged Member States which had not yet done so to give this matter their utmost consideration. They also noted that the CARIFESTA village, designed to accommodate over 1,000 participants from the wider Caribbean and Latin America, will be completed in time for the opening of the event on August 17, 2000.

Heads of Government were also pleased with the programme of events, which includes a variety of events in the performing and visual arts, and in particular that emphasis is being equally placed on the staging of grand galas as well as community-oriented cultural events. They were also encouraged by the fact that among the issues to be discussed at the series of symposia is the future of CARIFESTA in an electronic age.

APPRECIATION

Heads of Government expressed appreciation to the Chairman of the Conference for the efficient and effective manner in which he presided over the meeting. They also expressed their profound appreciation to the Government and People of St Vincent and the Grenadines, and especially the residents of Canouan, for the warm hospitality extended to them and their delegations during their stay.

DATE AND VENUE FOR THE TWENTY-SECOND MEETING
OF THE CONFERENCE AND TWELFTH INTER-SESSIONAL
MEETING OF THE CONFERENCE

Heads of Government accepted the offer of the Government of Barbados to host the Twelfth Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government in February 2001 and of the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to host the Twenty-Second Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government in July 2001.

Canouan, St Vincent and the Grenadines.
5 July 2000

*****

STATEMENT ON GUYANA AND SURINAME

The Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, meeting in Canouan in St Vincent and the Grenadines on the occasion of the 21st Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, discussed the situation arising out of the longstanding territorial dispute between two of its Member States, Guyana and Suriname, and the most recent dispute between the Parties concerning the grant of a licence by the Government of Guyana to CGX for purposes of conducting exploratory drilling in an area of joint claim by the Parties and beyond their respective territorial sea limit.

The Heads of Government affirmed the vital importance of settling this dispute by peaceful means in accordance with the spirit of the Treaty of Chaguaramas and the need to ensure that the benefits of existing resources in the area redound to the benefit of their respective peoples.

The Conference recognized that both Guyana and Suriname are signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea which establishes a two hundred mile Exclusive Economic Zone beyond the limits of the Coastal States’ Territorial Sea.

It recognized that wherever States have contiguous borders, there will likely exist an area mutually exclusive to both States which create a joint interest in the area of overlap.

It was accepted that the settlement of claims by both Parties in their respective Exclusive Economic Zone is contingent on the final settlement of the border dispute and Conference recalled, that a mechanism for the settlement of outstanding border disputes exists for the purposes of delineating the territorial boundaries between both States.

Both Guyana and Suriname expressed their commitment to the earliest resolution of outstanding Border claims and pledged to act in good faith to accomplish this end. They further restated their intention to reconvene their Joint Border Commissions for dialogue in respect of these claims.

The Presidents of Guyana and Suriname agreed to meet in Jamaica within the next seven (7) days in order to expedite a resolution of outstanding differences which have recently arisen. They also agreed to determine a modality for exploiting the benefits of the exploratory drilling activities to be undertaken in the disputed area.

In this connection, they noted a number of proposals raised earlier, which include:

  • The establishment of a Joint Commission to undertake the granting of licensing activities in the area;
  • the joint superintendence of any and all activities to be carried out in the area;
  • the sharing of any data and information resulting from the exploratory activities in the area being placed on a transparent basis;
  • the equitable distribution of the proceeds deriving from any exploitative activities in the area.

These and other proposals constitute elements, which could facilitate an acceptable framework for full agreement

Both Guyana and Suriname made it clear that the right of any underlying claim subsisting in the area would be preserved without prejudice.

It was also accepted that they will have to procure the concurrence of their constitutional and institutional bodies before arriving at final agreement.

The Heads of Government were pleased to offer the good offices of the Chairman of Conference to monitor the progress of meetings related to the Joint Border Commissions.

The Conference welcomed the assurances by the Presidents of Guyana and Suriname that they would do every thing possible to avoid the escalation of tension, and work towards restoration of normalcy in their relations as befits sister nations in the Community. They further undertook to pursue all modalities for the strengthening and deepening of relations between them.

*****

STATEMENT ON OECD HARMFUL TAX POLICY

Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, meeting in Canouan, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, expressed grave concern at a recent series of orchestrated activities by the G-7, through three organisations of its creation. These activities, which are unilateral and inconsistent with international practice, are designed to impair the competitive capacity of Caribbean jurisdictions in the provision of global financial services.

Heads of Government analysed in detail the 26 May 2000 Report of the Financial Stability Forum created by the G7 in 1999 to enhance market supervision and surveillance following the financial crises in Asia, Brazil and Russia. They were alarmed at the fact that the Forum adversely categorised Caribbean jurisdictions with Offshore Financial Centres, based on their unilateral evaluation of the quality of supervision of these jurisdictions even as its report found that “Offshore Financial activities are not inimical to global financial stability.”

Heads of Government also studied the 22 June 2000 Report of the Financial Action Task Force which listed some countries as “non-cooperative jurisdictions” in the prevention of money laundering. They deeply regretted that this listing was made even though the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, the Regional counter-part organisation to the Financial Action Task Force, had advised that Caribbean jurisdictions were making significant progress in tightening their money laundering regulatory and legislative framework.

Heads of Government also reviewed the OECD Report of 26 June 2000 which listed jurisdictions as tax havens, because these countries have competitive tax regimes and have not agreed to bind themselves to the elimination of policies and practices which the OECD has unilaterally determined to be “Harmful” to its members.

Heads of Government took note that each of the reports was prepared by bodies in which the Caribbean has no representation and was based on incomplete information and on standards set unilaterally by these bodies. They deplored the fact that the lists were published with the objective of tainting jurisdictions in the eyes of the investment community and the international financial market. They condemned the actions of the OECD in particular as contrary to the tenets of a global market economy promoted by G7 countries. They reiterated that the proposed OECD actions have no basis in international law and are alien to the practice of inter-state relations.

Heads of Government remain convinced that international rules and practices must evolve from genuine consultative processes and in international forums in which all interests are represented. They affirmed that international rules must be made and applied democratically based on accepted principles and norms. In this regard, Heads of Government again expressed their readiness to address any concerns of the OECD in the appropriate multilateral forum, based on such accepted principles and norms.

Heads of Government reaffirmed their commitment to fight money laundering and all other forms of financial crime and drew attention to the fact that they have called upon all their Member States to accelerate their programmes of introducing international best practices in their regulating of the financial sector and their strengthening of legislation and enforcement machinery.

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