On January 28, 2022, the Foreign Ministers of the Caribbean countries under the CARICOM (Caribbean Community) and the Republic of Columbia conducted the second Summit to foster ties and shared objectives at the Golden of Columbia in Barranquilla. CARICOM is the grouping to promote the unified Caribbean community to build an inclusive, competitive economy, culture and society.
The Declaration signed at the Summit is significant as it bolsters the shared vision with Columbia and makes clear its intentions to build close ties with Caribbean countries of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, The Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Haiti ,Saint Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Guyana, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Suriname Trinidad & Tobago.
The Declaration supports the proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace, while focusing on regional cooperation, integration and coordination. The Declaration starts with culture as a shared wealth for the region and proclaims to make the cultural diversity “visible and recognizable” to enhance productivity between Caribbean countries and Columbia.
The severe challenges that were faced by each country due to the pandemic were recognized and commitments were made for closer coordination between the CARICOM and Latin American region in the current crisis and others in future through “open and constructive dialogues.” An important point in the Declaration is the acute awareness of the discrimination faced by the developing countries in procuring vaccines and medical accessories during the COVID waves. The Declaration resolves to reduce dependence on external entities and to develop health technologies to meet the challenge of COVID and coordinate response to future health emergencies The Declaration also calls on the international community to promote equity and solidarity in access to vaccines to fight the current pandemic.
The Declaration acknowledged the interest of some Caribbean countries to create bilateral agreements with Columbia and urged them to establish working groups for the same. It also invited Bahamas, Haiti and Suriname to explore their incorporation in Partial Scope Agreement 31 which governs the formal relations with Columbia.
Among the important agreements, it agreed to set a “joint cooperation agenda aimed at agricultural reactivation between Colombia and the Caribbean Community” for greater competitiveness with knowledge, innovation and technology transfer. Economic cooperation remained the major focus of the Declaration. It recognized the importance to develop a circular economy to make the production chains sustainable through sharing of experiences and good practices including technologies.
It also reaffirmed its commitment to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and welcomed the regional vote in United Nations in support for sustainability and a green future. Coming to the social aspect, the Declaration committed to promote gender equality, develop public policies for “employment, entrepreneurship, and productive inclusion of women.”
The region faces many security challenges such as narcotics, illegal drugs, trafficking of arms and ammunition, radicalism, human trade, etc. The Summit discussed the challenges and instructed the countries to formulate practical solutions to the problems. In addition, the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security will coordinate with the authorities in Columbia particularly the Navy to check the common threats. The Security cooperation also received a boost with the CARICOM Member States accepting an invitation to attend the International Defence and Security Trade Fair organized by Columbia.
Many Caribbean states as part of the Small Island Developing States, including Columbia and the Latin American region too are vulnerable to the vagaries of climate change and the natural calamities are rising. The Declaration welcomed the Paris Agreement on Climate and the commitments of the Convention on Biological Diversity while calling for more initiatives to promote the green measures to fight climate change.
Commending the shared cultures of the Caribbean, the Declaration welcomed sports as an important field of cooperation. The Member States have agreed to conduct the next Summit of the Caricom-Columbia Ministerial meet within the coming two years.
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