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In the context of the Antilles-Guyana Regional Cooperation Conference, today is a day to celebrate our mutual contribution to regional cooperation and highlight the importance of our shared vision and commitment. Today we celebrate the XVII Conference with the firm commitment to seize the vast opportunities that await us, and to strengthen our synergies in finding solutions to challenges, as we pursue new horizons together.

I am delighted to be here and as a son of an island, with very strong French influences, I value the creole we speak and that connects us; the cuisine we enjoy; the music we dance to; and the common history we share. In fact, for those who do not know, from my beautiful island home of Saint Lucia, I can clearly see Martinique, and I do enjoy traveling there and to the other French territories in the Caribbean. Saint Martin feels like home and on behalf of my organization – CARICOM, I express my profound gratitude to the authorities of all the French Territories for your warm hospitality and for embracing the true spirit of the Community.


The past week has been a reflection of the Vision of the Caribbean Community:
A Caribbean Community that is integrated, inclusive and resilient; driven by knowledge, excellence, innovation and productivity. A Community where every citizen is secure and has the opportunity to realise his or her potential with guaranteed human rights and social justice; and contributes to, and shares in, its economic, social and cultural prosperity. A Community which is a unified and competitive force in the global arena.

Deeper levels of integration means Caribbean citizens will be more unified in their support of the Community’s objectives through greater levels of participation. Fostering deeper levels of unity will benefit from increased stakeholder engagement and participation in the regional integration process. By embracing our Caribbean identity, and engaging citizens across all the islands and territories of the region, we strengthen Community relations and promote a singleness of purpose that benefits us as a Caribbean civilization.

As a Caribbean Community, we seek to strengthen our global Influence and enhance our position in the global arena. This will require agreement on, and advocacy of, Community positions on major hemispheric and international issues, and stronger external/international strategic relationships to advance the development of the Region.

In sum, the Secretariat’s strategic vision is to support Member State engagement and participation in the regional integration process by adopting more collaborative and cohesive approaches to its work.


It is within this Strategic Vision that we would embrace the associate membership of Martinique, French Guiana, and Guadeloupe. By seeking to be part of CARICOM, within the context of Antilles-Guyane regional cooperation, Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana would become part of the oldest regional integration movement in the world today as we chart the next 50 years.

Regional Cooperation Through Associate Membership

In furthering regional cooperation, CARICOM would welcome the accession to Associate Membership of Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana. While the Community celebrates its 50th year of existence, we want to ensure that our work carries forward the same historic spirit of Associate Membership currently enjoyed by other sister islands. It is in this manner that we can ensure that the next 50 years will hold the Vision of the Community at the centre of everything that we do.

As we are aware, CARICOM is a Community of sovereign states which have agreed to act in concert in areas outlined in the Revised Treaty of Chaguramas. This means that decisions taken by the Conference of Heads of Governments, along with creating rights for persons within the CARICOM sphere, create obligations for Member States to implement the decisions through national laws and policies. Whilst this may somewhat lengthen our decision-making and implementation processes at times, we have reason to be proud of the significant accomplishments of the past 50 years which have impacted social, economic and cultural development of both our Member States and Associate Members.

Reflecting on Fifty Years of Regional Cooperation

In reflecting on the accomplishments of past 50 years, I can say to you that we have established a number of specialized Regional Institutions in the areas of Education, Health, Agriculture, Disaster Management, Climate Change, and Crime and Security, which all work to enhance the benefits of regional integration. We have been successful in establishing the Caribbean Development Bank, the Caribbean Court of Justice, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, the Caribbean Examination Council, the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS, and the Caribbean Public Health Agency, among others.

We already have a Community Agricultural Policy and a Double Taxation Agreement and are in the process of finalizing a Community Industrial Policy among the Member States. We have harmonised standards, sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures, and a Competition Policy. We have in place a CARICOM Multilateral Air Services Agreement which recognizes the Caribbean jurisdiction as a single space for airline registration.

A sound security network has been put in place, including a CARICOM Arrest Warrant Treaty, an Agreement on the Recovery and Sharing of Assets derived from criminal activity, and a Counter Terrorism Strategy.

We have also made our voices heard and our votes count internationally. Along with sustained advocacy, we have become a respected voice in global affairs, most recently to note in the area of Climate Change and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). We are happy with the significant achievement with the Loss and Damage Fund. Further, the Bridgetown Initiative, seeks to galvanize political leadership behind an ambitious, but feasible set of policy reforms to address multiple crises, including the climate crisis.
Regional transport is also taking shape. Very soon we will be able to travel freely and seamlessly as citizens of CARICOM, not only for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, but also by virtue of being citizens of the Community. This is part of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and a tangible undertaking of uniting the peoples of the Caribbean.

The conceptualization of the CSME is a significant achievement. Through the CSME, we want to progressively and ultimately create a single, seamless economic space within our Community that provides a larger scale economic, trading and business environment. It is our platform for economic growth and development within our Region, as well as our foundation for international competitiveness and effective insertion in the global economy.

Charting the Next 50 Years

Charting the next 50 years of regional cooperation will depend on how we decide to write our story for the next generations of Caribbean citizens.

Today we have decided to seize the opportunities and strengthen our synergies. I encourage us all to let this be one of our guiding principles for the next 50 years.

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