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Minister Courtenay Speaks on the Importance of Canada/CARICOM Relations

Foreign Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) met virtually with the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly on Friday. The meeting was co-chaired by Belize’s Foreign Minister Eamon Courtenay who is the Chair of the Caribbean Community Council for Foreign and Community Relations. During the meeting, ministers reaffirmed the enduring value of the deep and dynamic partnership between Canada and CARICOM, and strengthened their commitment to sustainability, resilience, climate action, and shared values in advance of a Leaders Summit anticipated for later this year. Minister Joly acknowledged that the pandemic, climate change, and the evolving geopolitical landscape have magnified socio-economic challenges in the Caribbean and around the globe and stressed the urgent need to re-build resilient, inclusive, and sustainable economies through increased commercial engagement and partnership.

Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canada: “We will strengthen the Canada-CARICOM partnership which is built on a deep foundation of rich cultural and people to people ties. Given events in the world today, this meeting is not only timely but it is essential. We’re moving forward together to tackle the most important challenge of our time. That, of course, includes COVID-19. Indeed, the pandemic proved to us that we are stronger together and Canada is committed to being a partner with you in this fight. COVID-19 pushed our healthcare systems to the limit, and it stalled our economy, and brought tourism to a standstill. Today, Canada has committed more than $2.7 billion to support the global response to the pandemic and Canada has shared more than 800,000 vaccine doses with our Caribbean partners, bilaterally or through COVAX. Together we will continue to wrap up our focus on both vaccine delivery and strengthening health systems and ensuring that vaccines turn into vaccinations.”

Ministers underscored the need for continued vigilance in mitigating the devastating impacts of COVID and climate change while pursuing concrete action to re-build resilient and sustainable economies, cooperate on regional security and promote stability, and increase collaboration in multilateral fora, including defending the rules based on international order, promoting sustainable development, democracy and shared values. In so doing, Ministers agreed to engage collaboratively to lay the groundwork for a successful Summit of the Americas, and to reinforce their collective commitment to hemispheric cooperation in support of shared objectives. Minister Courtenay underscored the importance of Canada/CARICOM relations.

Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs: The demands of the times and the threats and risks we face cannot be adequately responded to by ad hoc mechanisms or alliances of convenience which are devoid of solid commitment and which produce no tangible or permanent results. Minsters, the tenuous recovery from the pandemic is at grave risk. Already IFIs have signalled downward projections of economic growth for our region. Vaccine coverage is below target in some CARICOM member states. Rising inflation threatens to push more people into poverty and food insecurity has the potential to lead to social unrest. A prolonged war in Ukraine will exacerbate these conditions leading to further disruptions in the global supply chains and inflation. The most important outcome of this meeting should be an agreement on a mechanism that will advance our relationship in investment, trade, development, and functional cooperation and facilitate our political dialogue. Together, CARICOM and Canada have the standing and capacity and respect to champion multilateral solutions to the crises of today.”

On the Ukraine matter, Ministers noted recent resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, reaffirmed support for the Charter of the United Nations, called for respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty and expressed concern over civilian casualties and humanitarian conditions.