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Your Excellency Serge Marcoux, Ambassador of Canada to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
Deputy Secretary-General
Representatives of the Canadian High Commission
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen
Members of the Media

It is with great pleasure that I welcome your Excellency Serge Marcoux to the Secretariat today for the special purpose of receiving your Credentials accrediting you as Canada's Ambassador to the Caribbean Community.

Canada and CARICOM have long enjoyed very warm and fruitful relations. In fact, the relationship which the Caribbean Community has enjoyed with Canada, has been considered a special relationship. It spans collaboration at the bilateral level, in the political, economic, trade, and cultural spheres. Multilaterally, that special relationship is exhibited in the Organisation of American States and more recently in the Summit of the Americas (SOA) process.

The Caribbean's relationship with Canada dates as far back as the late 17th century when salted cod was a major export to the Region from the Maritime Provinces. In 1912, the Caribbean and Canada entered into a formal trade arrangement that resulted in the movement of goods between Canada and most of the British West Indies at preferential rates. Commercial relations improved in 1925 with the entry into force of the Canada – West Indies Trade Agreement which provided for lower tariffs on an increased number of goods entering Canada from the anglophone Caribbean. The 1925 Agreement also included a protocol establishing a Commonwealth Caribbean-Canada Trade and Economic Committee to Consult on Trade, Financial and Related Matters. This was succeeded by the 1979 CARICOM-Canada Trade and Economic Agreement which among other things established the CARICOM – Canada Joint Trade and Economic Committee (JTEC), the Tenth Meeting of which is to be held next month in Ottawa – a meeting I hope to attend.

Excellency, your country's direct support of our integration process and the economic development of our Region, has been significant and of long standing. Canada, aware of the importance of maritime transportation links in uniting a community of island states, donated two ships – the Federal Maple and the Federal Palm, in support of our efforts at creating and sustaining the West Indies Federation of 1958.  In later years, Canada also offered to contribute to the construction of a Headquarters building for the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown. We did not pursue that project then. A Headquarters building is now in the pipeline. Under the Canada-CARICOM Trade and Economic Agreement mentioned earlier, support has been provided to the Community for key regional programmes and projects such as:

    the establishment and operations of the CARICOM Fisheries Resource Assessment and Management Programme (CFRAMP);
    the five-year CARICOM Regional Institutional Strengthening Project (CRISP) aimed at upgrading the CARICOM Secretariat's capacity and efficiency; and
    the very important six (6) year CAREC-HIV/AIDS Project (CHAP) for screening and testing HIV which began in 1996.

Recently Canada made another significant contribution to the Region in the form of a major disaster preparedness project with CDERA.

Since 1963, it is estimated that Canada has provided approximately (Can)$2 billion in development assistance. Canada also contributed, as a founding member, to the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) which grew from a capital injection of US$11 million in 1970 to almost US$120 million in 2001. The CDB plays a vital role in the Region's development.

There has also been considerable foreign direct investment in the areas of banking and mining that have been mutually beneficial to both CARICOM and Canada. Many of our nationals, and to this we can now add nationals of Haiti, have also opted to make your beautiful country their home and their remittances represent a significant contribution to several of our economies.

Ladies and gentlemen, you will agree that the world has changed exponentially since 1912 and especially so with the evolution of the international economy precipitated by the revolutionary effect of globalization. Faced with many challenges in the different global negotiating theatres, particularly for recognition of the Region's position as small and vulnerable states, CARICOM Member States appreciate Canada's support for the principle of special treatment for smaller economies.

Also over the years, there has often been a convergence of views on hemispheric issues such as good governance and human rights as well as matters relating to Cuba and Haiti. The readiness of different Canadian administrations to engage in an exchange of views on these and other areas has always been welcome.

CARICOM's relationship with Canada has been greatly enhanced through the convening of Summits, other high-level meetings and the JTEC.  These fora have provided excellent opportunities to review and strengthen the strong ties between CARICOM and Canada in discussions on political, social, commercial and economic issues of mutual interest to both sides.

In closing, Excellency, your accreditation here today to the Caribbean Community will, like that of some of your illustrious predecessors, greatly enhance and deepen this relationship and will undoubtedly yield more fruit from our collaborative efforts.

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