Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have agreed to the establishment of a Caribbean Investment Program to stabilize failing economies in the region. This was agreed to at the Thirty Third Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community held July 4-6, 2012 at Gros Islet, Saint Lucia.
In a Communiqué issued at the conclusion of the Conference, the Heads also agreed to identify various sectors of the economy, including tourism, agriculture and construction as areas, which offered prospects for early resuscitation of economic growth.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration the Hon Fred Mitchell represented the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, Prime Minister of The Bahamas to the Conference; He was accompanied by Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis, Minister of State for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez and, Nicole Archer and Charmaine Williams, Foreign Service workers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. High on the Conference Agenda were growth and development of the respective economies of CARICOM-member states, and the global economic implications for the Community.
The Heads agreed that the major focus for the Conference must be on growth and development and considered the performance of CARICOM economies in the context of the global economic crisis and unstable recovery and of projections for the immediate future.
Heads also gave attention to developments in the financial market, which have implications for the region and for the economies, which are major markets for CARICOM goods and services. “Conscious that global financial and economic developments were merely compounding problems already existing in the region, Heads identified major factors that we integral to the difficulties being experienced and considered possible ways of addressing the high levels of unemployment which were also a threat to social stability,” according to the Communiqué.
Heads determined that thee was a need to re-examine policy approaches to growth and development and further agreed to review fiscal policy with a view to achieving a balance between taxation and expenditure to more adequately support economic growth and development. Heads also called on the Caribbean Development Bank to structure its lending procedures and processes to assist in the thrust for growth and development and signaled their intent to engage the multi-lateral financial institutions in the effort to buttress Member States against external shocks.
Pertaining to Foreign Policy, Heads discussed the “profound” geopolitical and geo-economics changes taking place in the global economic environment and their implications for the Community’s external relations and its economic and development well being. “They were of the view that these changes presented challenges but also provided opportunities which needed to be exploited to the benefit of the Community,” the Communiqué says. Heads placed emphasis on the importance of enhancing the foreign policy coordination modalities of the Community and stressed that foreign policy coordination was not only a guiding principle for CARICOM but also a necessary tool to achieve effectiveness in foreign policy outcomes.