Spain to push for decision on aid package for Caribbean rice industry
-summit declaration
Stabroek News
May 20, 2002

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Spain has agreed to facilitate a speedy decision on the financial package from the European Union for the Caribbean rice industry, according to a joint declaration issued at the conclusion of the Second CARICOM-Spain Summit held in Madrid on Thursday.

In addition, Spain undertook to lend support to the timely implementation of the approved programme of assistance for the region's rum industry and to appropriate Caribbean tourism projects funded by the European Commission.

According to the declaration, "in the context of the framework of economic and commercial relations between CARICOM and the European Union, CARICOM and Spain reiterated their commitments undertaken in the Cotonou Agreement. Spain agreed to advocate, within the European Union, the region's concerns on sensitive matters such as the need to safeguard the preferential access for Caribbean bananas, the ACP-EU Sugar Protocol, and the implications of the `Everything But Arms' initiative (in which goods from Less Developed Countries will be able to enter the EU under preferential terms)."

In attendance at the summit hosted by the Prime Minister of Spain were the presidents of Guyana and Haiti, the prime ministers of Barbados, Belize and Jamaica, the vice-president of Suriname and representatives from The Bahamas, St Kitts-Nevis, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as the CARICOM Secretary-General. And CARICOM countries gave their support for the candidature of Spain for a non-permanent post on the United Nations Security Council for the period 2003-2004. Spain expressed its sincere appreciation for this support, the declaration said.

It stated also that Spain and CARICOM countries "reiterated their firm commitment to the fight against narco-trafficking and noted the introduction in national legislation of more effective laws to combat money laundering."

Further, Spain gave an undertaking to give continued support to the region's efforts to fight narco-trafficking, including the hosting of a seminar on combating narco-trafficking with the necessary technical assistance.

CARICOM and Spain also welcomed the entry into force of the Statute of Rome to create the International Criminal Court and it was recognised that an important role was played in this process by the Caribbean Community, particularly Trinidad and Tobago, as well as the European Union.

The declaration noted too that CARICOM and Spain exchanged views on approaches to the negotiations of new ACP-EU trade arrangements and World Trade Organisation (WTO) compatibility and agreed that the outcome of negotiations, scheduled to start in September, would change ACP-EU trading relations.

Both sides recognised that special attention would have to be given to the adjustments which would have to be made by the Caribbean as a result of the change in ACP-EU trade relations which will be brought about by new trading arrangements.

In the declaration, the parties said that consideration would also have to be given to the means by which the Caribbean would build its internal economic capacity in preparation for the new global realities and to its full integration into the world economy.

CARICOM Heads of Government and the Spanish Prime Minister noted the progress made in the field of technical cooperation through the seminars and workshops organised by Spain in the following areas: the teaching of Spanish as a second language, fisheries development, tourism, and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises.

CARICOM also expressed its appreciation to Spain for the establishment of the Garcia Lorca Chair at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, which was established after the first summit.

The parties agreed to convene the first CARICOM-Spain Joint Commission in the second half of this year and identified the following priority areas of cooperation as provided for under Article 4 of the agreement: support for export promotion, tourism, fisheries and environmental programmes; and development of Spanish as a second language.

Spain will collaborate in the creation of a training centre for teachers of Spanish which would have a regional reach. Until this centre is operational, the declaration noted, support for the teaching of Spanish will continue through the extension of the agreement between UWI, the Instituto Cervantes and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation.

The declaration added that CARICOM Heads of Government welcomed Spain's offer of scholarships to the region and other initiatives to develop the region's human resource base.

Moreover, that country's contribution to the global fund to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria was also welcomed as well as its expressed preference for the fund to dedicate its resources to programmes submitted by the Caribbean region.