(i) The Recent Venezuela Oil Facility Offer
The Bureau welcomed the offer of the Government of Venezuela of an Energy Accord (the Caracas Energy Accord) to supplement the existing San Jose Agreement, thereby providing additional support on a bilateral basis to several oil-importing countries in the Caribbean and Central America.
It also welcomed the inclusive spirit in which the offer was proposed by president Chavez of Venezuela to CARICOM Heads of Government at their retreat in Tobago on 6 July 1979 and reiterated on several occasions, including at the historic South Summit in Havana, Cuba.
The Bureau noted that the Caracas Energy accord, in the first instance, though directed to the original beneficiary countries under the San Jose Agreement plus Cuba, provides scope for other interested CARICOM oil-importing states to participate through bilateral arrangements.
It also took note of the public statements made by the Foreign Minister of Venezuela which confirmed that access to the facility is open to other CARICOM States who express interest in participating under its terms and conditions.
Finally the Bureau considered the initiatives of President Chavez in favour of the developing countries of the Caribbean and Central America to be extremely timely, given the recent escalation in oil prices and the continuing uncertainty arising from the situation in the Middle East.
(ii) Statement on the European Union (EU) Council Decision
For Amendment to the EU Banana Import Regime
The Caribbean is greatly concerned that the General Affairs Council of the European Union at its Meeting on 9 October 2000 accepted the proposals of the European Commission of 4 October 2000 for the modification of the EU Banana Import Regime. The Caribbean has repeatedly demonstrated to the Commission and to the other interested parties that neither a “First Come First Served” system nor a “Tariff Only” system would offer the support for the ACP Banana Exporting countries to remain in the EU market.
The Caribbean must therefore strongly reject the current proposal for settling the Banana Dispute. It would hasten the demise of the Caribbean Banana industry before Governments and the private sector can restructure and adjust to the increased competition.
The Caribbean has consulted extensively with all interested parties. In these consultations, almost every interest group has expressed a strong preference for a revised regime, based on a tariff rate quota system with licence allocations, paying attention to historical trade. The only objection to this approach which would keep all parties in the market, has been over the specifics.
The Caribbean again urges all parties to return to the negotiating process with the political will and flexibility to seek a solution in the interest of all parties. The Caribbean restates its commitment and will to work with all concerned in this long standing dispute to find a fair resolution which safeguards the legitimate interests of all parties, including the most vulnerable.
(iii) Statement on Haiti
The Bureau of the Conference of Heads of Government at its Meeting on Monday, 16 October 2000, reflected on the involvement of the Caribbean Community in the political and electoral process in Haiti.
Recognising the historical challenges which confront the Haitian people, CARICOM remain concerned about the absence of efforts from the key political actors in Haiti to find a resolution to the existing impasse.
CARICOM will continue to remain engaged with the People and Government of Haiti to facilitate a resolution of the recent political difficulties and encountered electoral deficiencies.
In this regard, CARICOM supports the efforts of the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the international community to facilitate a dialogue between the Fanmi Lavalas and the opposition parties, united in the Convergance Democratique.
CARICOM calls upon all key stakeholders in this process to contribute to political and social stability to institutionalising a democratic process in Haiti in accordance with the aspirations of the Haitian people.