GREATER GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), their Ministers and officials, as well as other delegates, have begun arriving in Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis for the 27th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, and ministerial meetings prior to the Summit.
The Opening Ceremony for the 27th Meeting will be held at the Sir Cecil Jacobs Auditorium, at the headquarters of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), from 4pm on Monday, July, 3.
The Auditorium is also the venue for the Meeting which ends on Thursday, 6 July. Dr. the Hon. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, who replaced the Hon. Patrick Manning, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago as Chairman of CARICOM on July 1, will preside over the Meeting.
The series of activities began on the morning of Sunday, July 2 at 10am, with the Second Annual CARICOM 10k race which ends at Government Headquarters Building in downtown Basseterre.
The Community Council of Ministers, the second highest decision-making organ in CARICOM, will hold its Fourth Special Meeting later that day at 3pm at the ECCB, which will also be the venue on the morning of Monday, 3 July for the 19th Meeting of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on External Trade Negotiations.
The Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller, will preside over the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee Meeting for the first time. The Minister of Education and Foreign Affairs of St Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris, will be Chairman of the Community Council.
Six Heads of Government and CARICOM Secretary-General, His Excellency Edwin Carrington, will address the Opening Ceremony of the Meeting of the Conference, at which the prizes from the CARICOM 10k will also be distributed.
The leaders who will address the ceremony are Dr the Hon. Denzil Douglas, The Hon. Patrick Manning, The Most Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller, His Excellency René Preval, President of Haiti, Dr. the Hon. Lowell Lewis, Chief Minister of Montserrat, and Dr the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Community Council will have a final look at the Agenda and the arrangements for the Meeting of the Conference, while the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on External Negotiations will be brought up-to-date on the state of trade negotiations being conducted at the bilateral level between the Community and Canada, MERCOSUR, The Dominican Republic and Cuba, as well as at the multilateral level of the World Trade Organization and the Economic Partnership Agreements with the European Union.
The CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) is at the top of the agenda for the Meeting of the Heads of Government, with attention focusing on expanding the categories of skilled nationals eligible for free movement. The move towards establishing the framework for the Single Economy by 2008 gathered momentum with the success of a high level symposium, Caribbean Connect, which ended in Barbados on Friday, 30 June 2006.
The issue of migration, with particular emphasis on the loss of skilled and trained human resources from the Region, is another item on the agenda. There will also be discussions on human trafficking in the Region.
Agriculture and energy are major issues over which the Heads of Government will deliberate. Apart from the challenges faced to the sugar and banana sectors, the development of the entire agriculture sector will come under scrutiny.
The leaders will receive recommendations from the Task Force on Regional Energy Policy, and discuss a paper on Changes in the International Geopolitical Environment and the Influence of Energy.
Developments in Haiti will be discussed, as well as arrangements for effective participation of that country in the activities of the Community. Haiti had been suspended from the Community for the past two years pending the staging of elections.
The International Cricket Council Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007, scheduled to be staged in the Caribbean, and the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA), to be held in Trinidad and Tobago in September 2006, will also command the attention of the leaders. The security aspects of the CWC will be of particular importance to the meeting.
Heads of Government will have a retreat in Nevis on 5 July, after which a cultural extravaganza to celebrate CARICOM Day will held at Brimstone Hill Fortress that evening.