Global economic situation forcing new foreign policy direction for the region

“One of the banes of CARICOM foreign policy is the very bad habit…of knowing that conferences are coming up …and waiting until the last minute, sometimes waiting when we are sitting at the conference itself to get together to determine what our contribution will be, what issues we will want to highlight.

“I made it very clear that Barbados is very dissatisfied with that. In fact I may have used the expression we are sick to the stomach about waiting until the last minute for CARICOM to sit down and to determine what its position is going to be in terms of the issues that we want to promote,” he told reporters.

But as the regional leaders emerged from their three-day annual summit here over the weekend, Stuart said there was “a new sensitivity to the need to treat foreign more seriously”.

St. Lucia’s Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny Anthony, the new CARICOM chairman said that the leaders had agreed that “foreign policy co-ordination is not only a guiding principle for CARICOM but it is a necessary tool to achieve effectiveness in foreign policy outcomes”.

CARICOM countries have already made it clear that while they do not intend to forego relations with their traditional partners in Europe and North America, there was need however to “consciously develop stronger relations with countries in the South.

“The global economy is undergoing rapid structural changes including the fact that growth is driven today by new and emerging centres of economic activity. These include countries that are geographically proximate to ours such as Brazil and with which we have historically strong relations such as China,” said Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar.

“Our region must respond to these realities by developing closer ties with these countries and also by exploring new frontiers of opportunity for beneficial bilateral relations,” he added.

Anthony has said that he will use his six month stint as chairman of the 15-member grouping to re-direct the region’s foreign policy at a time when the entire world has changed around CARICOM during its 40 year existence.

“The time has come for CARICOM to overhaul and redefine its foreign policy positions and postures,” he said, noting that the reality that beholds the region is that the prospects of global growth will be determined by decisions made in Beijing.

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