As the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) celebrates its 50th anniversary, President Irfaan Ali on Monday promised to provide strong leadership when Guyana assumes chairmanship of the regional integration body next year.
“We aim to use these opportunities to provide strong leadership and to energize the Community’s work,” he said in a message to mark CARICOM’s 50th anniversary.
Guyana will assume CARICOM’s chairmanship from January to July 2024. Before that, Guyana will will join the Bureau of the Conference alongside The Bahamas and Dominica.
Dr Ali recognised the founders of CARICOM and their successors “who have kept the ship of regional integration steady and on course.” They included then Prime Minister of Guyana, Forbes Burnham; Barbados’ Prime Minister Errol Barrow and the Premier of Antigua Vere Bird who signed the Dickenson Bay Agreement that established the Caribbean Free Trade Area (CARIFTA) in 1965. Eight years later on July 4, 1973, Mr Burnham, Mr Barrow, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Eric Williams and the Prime Minister of Jamaica Michael Manley signed the Treaty of Chaguaramas that established CARICOM and eventually the other countries joined.
The Treaty has since been revised to facilitate greater cooperation especially in the area of the Single Market.
He said Guyana will continue to be a vibrant and engaged member in the future. “Guyana looks forward to working within the Community to help realize the vision of a united, resilient and prosperous Caribbean,” he added.
Already Guyana, which is responsible for agriculture in CARICOM’s quasi-cabinet, has been leading the regional food security agenda with the aim of increasing regional food production by 25 percent by 2025. CARICOM’s food import bill is more than US$5 billion.
“In recent times, we have been very forceful in propelling the region’s agenda in the areas of climate, food, and energy security,” Dr Ali noted.
High on the agenda is the Haitian socio-economic and political crisis in meetings with United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken and United Nations Secretary General António Guterres.