He said that questions are presently been raised, regarding the viability of the European Union and uncertainty regarding the raising of the US debt ceiling abounds. The incoming chairman said problems in Europe would have consequences for the United States of America and the Caribbean is a nearby neighbour.
This tumultuous world is all interconnected as we here in St. Kitts & Nevis, assume the chair, but with our commitment not being to our two islands alone, but indeed to the entire Caribbean, we approach the chairmanship with humility and with profound and unshakeable belief in us all, as a Caribbean people.
The host Prime Minister predicted that as the region looks to the next months and beyond, the deliberations of the region will be dominated by issues previously agreed to by the leaders and by priority issues that no one at this time, have the ability to foresee.
Dr. Douglas told fellow Heads and other invited guests, that the sizes of the various territories in the region, combined with their special history, have resulted in our nations not having the requisite sources of capital internally, to create the levels of economic growth and job formation that we seek.
He said though the regional states are well managed and stable with fully functioning democracies, our ability to attract foreign investment, in the short, medium and long term, will remain key, despite the economic instability, currently being experienced in many nations that have traditionally been sources of investment capital for the region.
Douglas indicated that in an era of increasing food prices, steady population growth, and limits to food production globally, our ability to ensure the Caribbean people that we would have access to safe, reliable and nutritious food, remains key to us here in the Caribbean.
Food security, Douglas outlined, is essential, both at the level of the individual, (because of the implication of personal health) and at the level of the region, (because of the link between the health of the people and the region’s productivity and competitiveness).
“Our region has been endowed with vast areas of fertile arable land. Land that is ideally suited to agricultural production, but due to our nations being either insular or coastal, our region also controls a vast marine asset base with very positive implications for dietary contributions, health, economic activity and food security.
The region’s insular and coastal features have delivered to us a competitive advantage within the rather lucrative global tourism market. These characteristics, combined with our own climatic, topographical and cultural profile, have also secured for us a special niche, in the tourism industry.
As we all know however, it is not enough to state that the Caribbean is a major source of revenue for the global cruise ship industry; far more important must be our own ongoing efforts to ensure that this region continues to identify and also to develop, the myriad entrepreneurial and revenue based opportunities that is offered by tourism.