(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Remarks By Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community Ambassador Irwin LaRocque At the FIRST CARICOM-JAPAN SUMMIT Trinidad and Tobago

CARICOM Press Release

There could hardly be a more fitting way to mark this CARICOM-Japan Friendship Year than to welcome, for the first time to the Caribbean Community, the Prime Minister of Japan. Welcome to the Caribbean Prime Minister Abe!
Twenty years ago the first CARICOM-Japan Consultation was held and since then our relationship has strengthened. This engagement, at the highest political level, shows the commitment of both sides to deepen it further. This builds on preceding contacts at the level of the Foreign Ministers and of senior officials.

Today’s interaction comes less than a month after CARICOM Heads of Government approved the Community’s first ever Strategic Plan which established priority areas of focus over the period 2015-2019. The Plan includes measures to overcome vulnerability such as the building of competitiveness and the unleashing of key economic drivers to transition to growth and generate employment.

Some of these measures coincide with the broad areas of technical cooperation which were agreed to at the Second CARICOM-Japan Ministerial Meeting in 2010. These included, Overcoming Vulnerability and Promoting Human Security; Integration into the Global Economy; and the Environment and Climate Change.

The conjunction of our priority areas of focus and the agreed areas of technical co-operation with Japan augurs well for the deepening of our relationship. In this regard, technical co-operation has been a major facet of our relations. It has taken place in areas such as disaster risk reduction, fisheries and agriculture, Information and Communication Technology, and the environment and climate change.

There is no doubt that Japan is well aware of the effects of natural disasters and Climate Change and the resulting cost of adaptation and mitigation. For us in the Caribbean Community it is an issue of survival, as already, for example, there are signs in at least one Member State that sea level rise has begun to take its destructive effect. Japan’s voice on this issue is an important one and we look forward to your support of the position of Small Island Developing and Low Lying Coastal States (SIDS) in international negotiations on Climate Change.

That is not the only area in which Japan’s intervention in international fora can demonstrate its interest in the sustainable development of our Member States. As the world prepares to look at the Post-2015 Development Agenda, it is crucial that the unique and particular vulnerabilities and challenges to the sustainable growth and development of SIDS are taken into account. To combat those challenges, SIDS need development financing. However, those SIDS which are categorised as Middle Income Countries are denied access to such financing through the use of per capita income as a criterion. That criterion is therefore inappropriate.

We also welcome Foreign Direct Investment as a means of stimulating growth in our economies. In that regard, it is my hope that the private sector members of the Japanese delegation would recognise the attractiveness of our Region for investment, thus adding another element to our relationship.

Mr. Prime Minister, in closing, I must mention the significant contribution of the Government of Japan to the construction of the CARICOM headquarters in Guyana. This will not be forgotten. It is a concrete example of the interest of Japan that symbolises the support that your country has provided for the development of our Community.

Let us use this occasion to strengthen the bonds of co-operation and ensure that your visit and this CARICOM-Japan Friendship Year becomes a milestone in the relations between CARICOM and Japan.

I thank you.

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