Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 18, 2023 (Ministry of Foreign Affairs): Foreign Ministers of CARICOM and the UK Foreign Secretary met today, Thursday 18th May, 2023 at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica, for the group’s bilateral biennial engagement.
As the Forum got on the way, Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica and current chair of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), and the Right Hon. James Cleverly, MP, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the UK, served as co-chairs. After welcome remarks from the co-chairs, who both expressed their anticipation of deliverables that can redound to the benefit of their respective nationals, CARICOM Secretary General Dr. Carla Barnett, CBE, articulated similar sentiments in her brief remarks.
The meeting’s agenda included discussions on (a) trade in goods and services, (b) finance for development, (c) cooperation in health and education, (d) energy and food security, and (e) climate change. Consistent with St. Kitts and Nevis’s responsibility for health within the Caricom quasi-Cabinet, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, Minister of Foreign Affairs, addressed the meeting during the session on Cooperation in Health and Education. Dr. Douglas highlighted the opportunities for partnership in the sharing of expertise and personnel to reduce NCDs and other diseases as well as to build capacity in health care and education.
Dr. Denzil Douglas expressed Saint Kitts and Nevis’ gratitude to Cuba, which was present at the meeting, as an observer, for that country’s support for the development of health and education opportunities in Saint Kitts and Nevis and other Caribbean countries. He thanked the UK for its ongoing support through the Chevening Scholarship awards. He stressed that the Cuban model, which allowed Caribbean students to be trained in Cuba, could be replicated by countries such as the UK. Minister Douglas expressed satisfaction with the in-person UK-Caribbean engagement after a two-year hiatus related to the Covid-19 pandemic.