I welcome this meeting between CARICOM Foreign Ministers and Secretary Blinken with a sense of optimism.
This meeting is significant, as it marks the resumption of interaction between CARICOM as a Region and the US at this high level. I recall that Meetings at this level were a regular feature of our relationship.
In this regard, I also note that our Region’s Heads of Government met with then Vice President Biden on two occasions, once in Trinidad and Tobago, and also in Washington D.C.
The Conference of Heads of Government looks forward to meeting with President Biden in the near future.
I hope that today’s session is the start of a renewal of such encounters.
The Member States of the Caribbean Community attach great value to the strong and enduring bonds of friendship between CARICOM and the United States. A spirit of cooperation has characterised our relationship, and it has been underpinned by collaboration on a range of issues, which include, trade and investment, security, health, energy, disaster management and climate change.
However, there are issues which we need to address as partners, such as blacklisting, correspondent banking, and access to concessional financing based on vulnerability, especially in this very challenging period for our Region with COVID-19 and its economic impact, La Soufriere volcano which has impacted St Vincent and the Grenadines and the upcoming hurricane season.
We have a short but substantive agenda before us, and I look forward to fruitful deliberations. I have every expectation that it will lead to a further consolidation, and enrichment of the long-standing and much valued CARICOM-US partnership.
I thank you.