The leaders discussed a number of regional, hemispheric and international issues. Particular attention was paid to the imminent Second Summit of the Americas due to be held in Santiago, Chile on the weekend, April 18-19, 1998.
Noting the equal relevance of both the economic and non-economic issues to be addressed in Santiago, prominence was given to the proposal expected to be adopted at the Summit to launch the negotiations towards the establishment of the Free Trade Area of the Americas by the year 2005.
The Leaders, in acknowledging the potential benefits of hemispheric integration, emphasised the need to ensure that the smaller economies of the hemisphere be effectively incorporated into the process. The Leaders recognised that smaller economies constituted a significant number of countries to be involved in the FTAA.
The Caribbean Community and Canada found common ground on a number of other areas to be discussed at the Summit including those under Education,Preserving and Strengthening of Democracy, the Importance of Eradication of Poverty and discrimination and the Need for a Structured and Systematic Follow-up Process for all Aspects of the Summit’s Mandates.
In that context the Leaders reviewed positively agreements reached at the hemispheric level with respect to confidence building including the security of small states which encompasses social, economic, environmental and political concerns. They noted that the Region’s stability depended in large measure on the security of access to markets and the preservation of the Caribbean Sea as sustainable resource. They recognised that early ratification of the Landmines Convention would make a significant contribution to regional security.
The importance of continued dialogue and collaboration in the Summit Follow-up Porcess to ensure implementation of decisions taken in Santiago was emphasised.
His Excellency President Preval advised his colleagues of the latest developments in Haiti. As well the Caribbean Community brought Canada up-to-date on the process of integrating Haiti into the regional institution.
The Leaders urged that a policy of constructive engagement be pursued with Cuba as a means of integrating that country into the hemispheric process and promoting democratic reforms.