PORT OF SPAIN — As Caricom marks its 40th anniversary today, its Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque said last night there was much to celebrate and take pride in as an integration movement.
LaRocque, speaking at the opening ceremony of the 34th Caricom conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St. Ann’s, noted that 40 years ago on July 4, 1973 the Treaty of Chaguaramas was signed.
He said in that 40 years Caricom has built on that foundation and has created a base upon which a sustainable future can placed.
“There is much to celebrate at this milestone of our integration process,” he said, adding that the region collectively has persevered, kept the faith and used its unity to exercise influence in the global diplomatic arena.
He noted successes such as the Caribbean Development Bank, the Caribbean Examinations Council and the Caribbean Broadcasting Union.
“Today we can boast about being the longest surviving integration grouping among developing countries and second only to the European Union in global terms,” he said.
He said there has been cooperation in the areas of health, disaster management, agriculture, the environment and education.
LaRocque added that the concept of negotiating as a “block” with respect to trade agreements has been maintained.
The Caribbean Single Market and Economy, he said, also reaped success.
He said with its introduction in 2006, inter regional trade has grown from approximately $600 million to more than US$3 billion in 2012.
Leaders, he said, have all expressed concern about crime and security being made the fourth pillar of integration, and a security architecture was established which proved its worth during the cricket World Cup in 2007.
LaRocque said Caricom is involved in a reform process to ensure that its arrangement is relevant and can deliver tangible benefits going forward. (Express)