SICA and CARICOM Join Forces in Crucial Meeting for Regional Integration
The member countries of SICA and CARICOM met this morning in a joint meeting in Placencia. The two sub regions were brought together as Belize seeks to bridge Central America with the Caribbean Community. According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Eamon Courtenay, the meetings over the next two days are crucial for both regional groups and Belize.
Eamon Courtenay, Foreign Minister of Belize: “Belize is seeking to put into effect what was one of the visions of the father of the nation, George Price. The idea is to bridge Central America and CARICOM and so we have economic and political dialogue on important issues. Most importantly, once we have identified the issues such as economic integration, trade integration, talking about climate change, talking about migration and these issues we have the San Pedro Plan of Action which which was approved by our heads last year and now we want to move towards implementation. So it is first we will have a communique coming out of the meeting and secondly a roadmap setting specific timeframes for implementation of certain steps to move the process forward. So it’s a very important meeting to bring Central America and CARICOM. We have foreign ministers, foreign trade ministers from both sub regions. We expect the Vice President of El Salvador to land very shortly. The President of the Dominican Republic, the President of Guatemala are also expected to come. All the countries of the Caribbean and Central America are represented.”
This morning’s meeting is referred to as the Economic & Political Dialogue between Ministers of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade for SICA & CARICOM. In his opening address, Minister Courtenay spoke on the urgency to address several regional issues, before any other commitments are made. Among those issues are the current crisis in Haiti.
Eamon Courtenay, Foreign Minister of Belize: “It will not serve us well, colleagues, if we make any further commitments without delving into the common challenges that we face. In the region, the fate of Haiti continues to hang by a thread. I have repeatedly expressed that unilateral efforts to help Haiti will not produce the lasting guarantees required. The United Nations Security Council must intervene and see to it that Haiti’s free fall is broken and that the election of an legitimate government comes soon rather than later. As the spillover effects of this problem are evident throughout both subregions, especially in the form of irregular migration, it is up to us to exert pressure on the UN Security Council to do right by the people of Haiti. The appointment of CARICOM’s eminent persons group and the recently concluded Kingston talks represent positive steps that will hopefully contribute to a solution of the Haitian crisis. Also factoring into the grand scheme of things is the continuing illegal war in Ukraine. Not only has it affected economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has also disrupted the lives of many of our citizens. In this region, we have fallen victim to increased inflation on consumer goods, fertilizer and energy, forcing us to reshuffle priorities from our development agenda. A silver lining, however, is that we have agreed that we must work towards becoming our own breadbasket through collaborative initiatives to enhance agricultural cooperation between both subregions.”
There was another session this afternoon that saw Foreign Ministers from SICA prepare for Tuesday’s meeting which will possibly see the furthering of the San Pedro Declaration. Come tomorrow, Prime Minister John Briceno will hand over the presidency of SICA to the Vice President of El Salvador, as Belize’s Presidency of SICA ends on Friday, June 30.