Speaking at the opening of the summit in Kingston, President Obama said he is keen on helping CARICOM countries move to less “carbon intensive” energy sources to combat what he described as one of the region’s greatest impediments to development.
“A particular focus today (April 9) is going to be one of the greatest barriers to development in the Caribbean and that is expensive, often unreliable and carbon intensive energy. This region has some of the highest energy costs in the world,” the US president said, as he pointed to the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative.
“The vice president hosted a summit on this in January. Our Caribbean Energy Security Initiative aims to help move the region toward cleaner, more affordable energy. Today we’re announcing new partnerships, including a new fund to mobilize private investment in clean energy projects in the Caribbean and in Central America,” President Obama stated, indicating that he believes much progress could be made on the energy issues in the short term.
President Obama also raised other areas of mutual concern for the US and CARICOM member countries that were discussed during the summit, including tackling trans-national crime, security in the region, human rights issues and transparency in governments, all of which he said would help to “deepen corporation for economic growth” in the Caribbean and Latin America.
CARICOM chairman Prime Minister Perry Christie of The Bahamas said the region welcomed the dialogue on critical issues that impact the region’s development.
“The three themes of the meeting, competitiveness, security and energy, could not be more relevant. There is no doubt that crime and security rank high among the principle threats and obstacles to growth. We therefore value highly the cooperation and the collaboration with the United States in the areas of security,” the CARICOM chairman stated.
In welcoming the president to Jamaica, summit host Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller said the discussions would be a demonstration of the improved relations taking place between CARICOM and the United States.
“Our dialogue…reaffirms our strong partnerships and signals our desire to take CARICOM-US relations to a higher level, capitalizing on the gains of the past and exploring new opportunities for the future,” Prime Minister Simpson-Miller said.