CARICOM, South Africa solidify diplomatic relations

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and South Africa on Thursday strengthened the long-standing diplomatic relations with the accreditation of a new High Commissioner, Her Excellency Xoliswa Ngwevela.

In accepting her letters of credence, Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque said it was a “symbolic reaffirmation of the determination of South Africa and the Member States of CARICOM to augment a long tradition of friendship, solidarity and the promotion of shared values, not just amongst ourselves, but in the global sphere.”

He told the new envoy that CARICOM was counting on South Africa to articulate its concerns on the withdrawal of correspondent banking services, a practice that threatens to undermine the region’s robust efforts to ensure economic stability and growth.

“The de-risking activities of certain transnational banks that are resulting in their withdrawal of correspondent banking services, have the potential to delink our economies from the international trading system and global economy.

“Similarly, the practice by certain countries of unjustifiably blacklisting CARICOM Member States as non-cooperative tax jurisdictions makes a mockery of our efforts and documented success in complying with onerous international regulations in this respect,” the Secretary-General told the new South African envoy.

He also noted CARICOM’s concern about “the troubling tendency” by many partners to graduate countries from access to concessionary financing based on the fundamentally flawed categorisation of some Member States’ economies as middle income.

Such categorisation, based solely on GDP per capita, pays no regard to other factors such as our vulnerabilities as small-island and low-lying coastal developing states, SIDS, he said”

“Indeed, we ask South Africa to air these concerns and share our proposed solutions in all those fora that claim to have development at heart, including those fora to which South Africa has access, and CARICOM States do not, like the G20 and BRICS.  We particularly seek South Africa’s support in calling for the means of measuring development to be revisited,” he stated.

In her remarks, Ms Ngwevela noted that South African Development Community and CARICOM were striving for similar goals of harmonising economic development. They both have developed milestone Strategic Plans to guide them and she feelt they can work together in this regard.

“Under your leadership, Sir, I have learnt that CARICOM has recalibrated and refocused its modus operandi and has adopted its “first ever” strategic plan that was approved by Heads of States and Governments in 2014. Similarly, in Africa, the Africa Union has adopted its own plan at their Summit in South Africa in January, 2015. This is a first ever strategic plan, called Agenda 2063 – The Africa We Want, whose end goals must be achieved by 2063, when the African Union celebrates its centenary.”

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