CARIFORUM and the European Union have signed a Regional Support Strategy (RSS) worth 57M Euros with the bulk of the resources going towards intensifying regional integration over the next five years.
The signing of the agreement was done by Secretary General of the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states, Edwin Carrington and Head of the European Commission Delegation in Guyana Vincent de Visscher in the Conference Room of the CARICOM Secretariat yesterday.
The agreement was signed under the Ninth European Development Fund and is referred to as the Regional Strategy Paper and Regional Indicative Programme.
Carrington told the media that CARIFORUM would now have to meet to determine what specific programmes and projects should be undertaken.
Further, with that focus on regional integration settled, he said there would be a push to include Haiti more effectively within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). However, he added that integration would also need to include the Dominican Republic, which is a member of CARIFORUM but not CARICOM. The community does have a trade agreement with the Dominican Republic.
Also included under the support strategy is assistance for the region in tackling serious constraints on economic development and political and social stability. Support for drug control will focus on developing and implementing regionally rooted strategies on demand and supply reduction. Support to disaster management will centre on strengthening a comprehensive regional disaster strategy.
In his remarks, de Visscher said that the initiative aimed to improve the quality of life of the Caribbean people by pursuing strategies related to economic, human and social development through regional integration.
The programme encompasses the expansion of the Caribbean market by identifying new economic opportunities and strengthening the Caribbean's position in the international context; deepening the integration process through the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) by targeting a harmonised economic space to promote economic efficiencies and reinforcing international trade. It will also deal with the economic repositioning process that constitutes the platform from which the integration of the Caribbean into the global trading regime will be pursued.
While the Ninth EDF will support intensifying regional integration, de Visscher said that it was expected that other instruments between the EU and CARIFORUM would contribute to financing other activities in the fields of agriculture, the environment, information technology, health and trade.
He said the Regional Strategy Paper and the Regional Indicative Program-me were in keeping with the objectives and commitments of the Cotonou agreement which was to foster the integration of the ACP countries into the world economy.
The ceremony was also attended by British High Commissioner to Guyana Stephen Hiscock, Suriname's Ambassador to Guyana, Manorma Soeknandan, members of the diplomatic community and staff of the CARICOM Secretariat.