(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana – Friday, 17 February 2023): Diplomatic relations between Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Canada were strengthened on Thursday, 16 February with an engagement between the Conference of Heads of Government and Canada’s Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, in The Bahamas.
The two parties discussed the situation in Haiti, climate change and climate financing, trade, increased people to people contact, regional security among other issues.
In his address to CARICOM Heads, the Canadian Prime Minister announced a new funding initiative totaling $44.8 million to tackle the climate crisis in the Caribbean.
He said the fund will support projects within regional organisations like the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), and the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund to improve marine and coastal ecosystem management, increased water security and to help governments respond to the impacts of Climate Change.
Acknowledging the challenges CARICOM countries face with accessing concessional development financing, he applauded the Bridgetown Initiative led by Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados. It has “re-energised the conversation on International Financial Institutions’ reform to the overlapping health, climate, debt, and liquidity crisis affecting many CARICOM countries,” the Canadian Prime Minister stated.
On the trade side, he said Canada is seeking a renewal of a waiver from the World Trade Organisation for goods from the Region to enter Canada duty-free beyond 2023, through the CARIBAN programme.
CARIBAN was announced in Nassau during a CARICOM Heads of Government Conference in 1985 and Prime Minister Trudeau said it is “only fitting” that CARICOM-Canada Heads of Government renew their commitment to the trading agreement during their meeting Thursday.
CARICOM-Canada reciprocal trade reached $1.9 billion in 2021, while bilateral trade in services reached $3.9 billion, Prime Minister Trudeau told CARICOM heads as he highlighted the strong trade ties between the two parties.
Heads of Government commended Prime Minister Trudeau for continuing the legacy of strong relations between CARICOM and Canada. They advocated for his country’s support to concessional funding for climate change related loss and damage, recovering from disasters, and development financing. Heads also emphasised the need for increased people-to-people contact between CARICOM and Canada through the restoration of visa-free travel.
In response to the latter, Prime Minister Trudeau said that Canada will in the coming days, announce new measures to simplify access to “trusted travelers” from CARICOM and other countries in the Region.