CARICOM pleased with outcomes of UK-Caribbean forum

Hon Sam Condor

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Caribbean and UK Foreign Ministers ended their two days of intense and frank discussions on Sunday afternoon with expressions of satisfaction with the 31-point Plan of Action that reflected the outcomes of the Seventh UK-Caribbean Ministerial Forum.

“It is not about talking about talk, but acting on talk…” affirmed Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque in his description of the Action Plan at the closing press conference.

Ambassador La Rocque noted that the Forum which had attracted at least three CARICOM Heads of Government, several Ministers of Security and a slew of representatives from the UK and Caribbean private sectors, was not just about policy but had spawned tangible actions to benefit the peoples of both Regions.

The opinion expressed by the CARICOM Secretary-General resonated with the co-Chair of the Forum the Honourable Sam Condor who is also the Foreign Minister for St Kitts and Nevis and Chair of the CARICOM Council for Foreign and Community Relations(COFCOR). He stressed the importance attached to the Forum by the UK and thanked the Delegation led by the Foreign Secretary, the Rt. Hon. William Hague for their expressed willingness to revitalize the forum and strengthen relations with the Caribbean.

According to Minister Condor, the conference revitalized the partnership between the two Regions as was reflected in the outcome document. He pointed to key issues related to economic resilience, climate change and security that were treated comprehensively during the meeting and expressed satisfaction with outcomes in those areas.

Minister Condor added that the issue of the UK Air Passenger Duty (APD) was ventilated and that the UK had given a commitment to continue dialogue on the matter. He was hopeful that there would be some adjustments made to the method used to apply the tax to make it less discriminatory against the Caribbean.

His sentiments were endorsed by Grenada’s Foreign Minister the Honourable Karl Hood who opined that future partnership with the UK would definitely be more robust. Minister Hood who played host to the Forum also applauded the Caribbean High Commissioners in London who he said worked diligently with the Caribbean team at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and with the CARICOM Secretariat during the last two years to ensure that Forum was brought to fruition

For his part Mr. Jeremy Browne Minister of State, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office described the two-day political dialogue as fruitful, noting that the Forum provided a framework for continuing activities with the High Commissioners in London. He stated that the Plan of Action was a testimony to the positive affirmation of the strong ties between UK and the Caribbean that could only enhance the quality of life of the people of both Regions.

The Seventh UK-Caribbean Ministerial Forum was held at the Grenadian by Rex Resorts, Point Salines Grenada under the theme, Sustainable Growth Towards Prosperity.

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