- Honourable Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs of India;
- Honourable E.P. Chet Greene, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Immigration and Trade of Antigua and Barbuda, and Chairman of the of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR);
- Other Honourable Ministers;
- Ladies and Gentlemen.
Honourable Minister, it gives me immense pleasure to welcome you to the Headquarters of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat.
CARICOM attaches great value to the bonds of friendship that we have forged with India over the years. India has remained a vital partner of the Community since the Region established formal diplomatic relations in 1997. Subsequently, steady progress has been made through regular political engagements and structured development cooperation arrangements.
Today’s Meeting of Foreign Ministers is another meaningful step towards institutionalising our high-level engagements. It follows the establishment of the CARICOM-India Joint Commission in 2015, the resumption of Ministerial meetings, and the first CARICOM-India Summit-Level Meeting in 2019. These engagements have given impetus to our relationship and provided policy guidance for future CARICOM-India interactions.
This Ministerial dialogue occurs in a global geopolitical environment roiled by deeply divisive and challenging issues. We continue to be burdened by the lingering effects of some of the gravest challenges in recent memory, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the challenge of Small Island and Low-lying Coastal Developing States (SIDS) to build resilience, the evident weakening of multilateralism, and other troubling geopolitical issues, all encumber our progress.
These persistent and emerging challenges lead to global socio-economic instability and geopolitical uncertainty,and require the development of institutional responses and innovative approaches. Exchanges of information and experience with trusted partners are essential, as we seek to develop interdisciplinary solutions and strengthen our collective action. Global challenges require global responses based on solidarity and collective action.
Honourable Ministers, solidarity and support from India continue to contribute to the advancement of regional integration objectives in areas such as agriculture, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), climate change mitigation and adaptation, and disaster risk management.
The multi-sectoral capacity building programming under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme has benefited CARICOM Member States greatly. The Government of India has provisioned US$150 Million in concessional credit to the Region. In addition, CARICOM-India knowledge sharing has been facilitated in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, through ICT Centres established in Grenada and Guyana and, most recently, through the secondment of an Indian Fisheries Expert to the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM).
The CARICOM Secretariat itself has also benefitted from the generosity of the Government of India through its provision of equipment, training and technical assistance in ICT, for which I express my appreciation.
Honourable Foreign Ministers, our agenda today clearly reflects the strong commitment, and the great value that both CARICOM and India attach to this important relationship.
As we address the issues on this agenda, I look forward to this dialogue, confident that it will deliver tangible results for our respective countries and peoples, and advance the friendly relationship forged between CARICOM and India over more than 25 years ago.
I thank you.