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Remarks by Secretary-General Dr Carla N Barnett at the 9th India-LAC Conclave, New Delhi, India, 3-4 August 2023

  • Honourable Ministers
  • Distinguished guests
  • Ladies and gentlemen

This 9th India-LAC Conclave is another excellent opportunity to enhance the growing partnership between India and the Latin America and Caribbean region as you – public and private sector stakeholders in this forum – seek to explore new markets, boost trade, create jobs and increase productivity and competitiveness.

The theme for this year’s engagement, “Furthering Economic Partnerships for Shared and Sustained Growth” captures the essence of CARICOM’s deepening relations with India. Discussions around the thematic areas of trade, health, information technology, energy, agriculture and food processing should prove beneficial to business interests in our Regions, as we share ideas, discuss current trends, and learn from each other.

Our constant engagement in high-level dialogue has allowed us to forge a strong foundation on which to build a fruitful economic partnership. Last April, during discussions between the Foreign Ministers of CARICOM and India, both sides agreed on the need for avenues to promote a stronger trade relationship and forge inter-regional business ties. This marked another milestone in CARICOM-India relations – a partnership that has flourished since we established diplomatic relations in 1997.

India’s emergence as a global economic power presents the Global South with an opportunity to engage with a trade partner that is no stranger to the challenges in international trade which confront developing countries.  While championing the causes of the developing world, as exemplified its presidency of the G20, India is playing a crucial role to shape the global agenda and advocate for the concerns of developing states. This includes critical issues such as climate change, financing for development, international trade, banking, and reform of the international financial architecture, all of which are strategic priorities for CARICOM Member States.

In the World Trade Organization, CARICOM values collaboration with India on a mutually beneficial approach to special and differential treatment for developing countries, particularly for the second phase of the fisheries subsidies negotiations to develop disciplines on subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing.

As it relates to our economic partnership, last November, Caribbean Export and the India Exim-Bank collaborated to publish a study detailing ways to boost trade and investment between the Region and India. At the Fifth CARICOM-India Ministerial Meeting, India proposed support for small and medium enterprises in the Region, as well as the convening of a CARICOM-India Business Forum to build inter-regional business contacts. Sustained contact between our private sectors is critical to promote mutually advantageous business to business arrangements.

The cultural and historic ties that bind India and the Caribbean are reflected in the vibrant and dynamic Indian Diaspora that has helped to weave the economic, political, cultural, and social fabric of our nations.  

We have done a great deal of groundwork and the time has come to capitalize on those efforts and convert them to tangible gains. Investors will find that our strategically located Region has much to offer. We have established strong legal frameworks, as well as favourable business and political environments. Our single market, which allows for free movement of goods, services, enterprises and labour within the Region, is growing stronger. We enjoy preferential access to several key markets in the Western hemisphere, as well as in Europe, by virtue of our trade arrangements with these partners. These combined make us a prime location for investment.

We will continue to engage partners, such as the Indian Export-Import Bank, on trade and investment facilitation to incentivize the private sector and further promote CARICOM-India trade. I encourage investors to consider these positive markers and continue to view the Region as an attractive one for business.

CARICOM remains committed to working with India to continue to build trade and business relationships. and advancing our economic partnership. It is my anticipation that this Conclave will result in long-lasting connections to further strengthen our partnership and advance sustainable growth and development for our peoples.

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