Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has described the recent Sixth Summit Of Heads Of State And Government Of The Association Of Caribbean States (ACS) as “exceeding the expectations of those attending”.
Stuart further expressed the view that with the commitment of Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto to the work of the ACS in tangible terms, “new life was breathed” into the association.
The Prime Minister led a delegation which included the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Maxine McClean, and Permanent Secretaries Sonja Welch (the Prime Minister’s Office) and Charles Burnett (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) to the one-day conference in Mexico.
On the sideline of the summit, Barbados held bilateral meetings with a number of countries, including Panama, El Salvador and Martinique. The summit brought together 31 countries and welcomed Martinique, Guadeloupe and St Maarten as Associated States for the first time. It was held on the 20th anniversary of the forming of the ACS.
The Declaration Of Merida, signed by the participating countries including Barbados, underscored the importance of the Greater Caribbean region, which accounts for almost half the population of Latin America and the Caribbean and represents 55 per cent of its total trade.
It also highlighted the challenges facing SIDS in achieving sustainable development; assigned priority to work on comprehensive disaster risk management to reduce the effects of natural or manmade disasters; restated the commitment of the countries of the Greater Caribbean to the protection of the Caribbean Sea and the work of the Caribbean Sea Commission; and noted the entry into force of the Convention establishing the Sustainable Tourism Zone of the Caribbean on November 13, 2013, and of the Regional Cooperation Agreement In The Area Of Natural Disasters on March 31, 2014. Several working groups were set up, on trade facilitation and business visas, among others.
Delegates present also paid tribute to the outstanding work of Professor Norman Girvan, a former secretary general of the ACS from Jamaica, who recently passed away. (BGIS)