(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) The just concluded CARICOM-Japan Meeting of Foreign Ministers, in which a Joint Statement of areas of cooperation was issued, builds on the momentum of the successful First CARICOM-Japan Summit of 28 July 2014, in Trinidad and Tobago.
The meeting, held on 15 November 2014, in Tokyo, Japan, resolved to strengthen the bonds of friendship between CARICOM and Japan. It agreed to cooperate in various areas under three broad pillars: cooperation towards sustainable development, including overcoming vulnerabilities particular to small island states; deepening and expanding bonds founded on exchanges and friendship; and cooperation in addressing challenges at the international community.
The Japan Foreign Minister, Honourable Fumio Kishida, indicated his country’s intention to give ‘utmost consideration” to CARICOM’s concerns on the issue of graduation from concessionary funding based on the narrow measurement of GDP per capita, and to the value of expanding this measurement to include a vulnerability index. According to him, the importance of assisting the Community from perspectives other than those based on per capita income was recognised; and his country would extend its cooperation towards overcoming these vulnerabilities, utilising Japanese technologies and expertise in fields such as disaster risk reduction, countermeasures against environmental degradation, climate change, renewable energy, waste management and fisheries.
Several CARICOM Member States have been graduated from access to concessionary financing based on the use of per capita income as the main criteria for measuring development and CARICOM have been arguing that the degree of vulnerability to external shocks, including natural disasters, should be taken into account.
With regard to cooperation in addressing challenges confronting the international community, particular attention was paid to United Nations Security Council reform where the two parties agreed to work together to achieve concrete outcomes during the 70th anniversary of the UN in 2015.
Mainstreaming disaster risk reduction in development planning and international cooperation as well as to the Post 2015 Development Agenda, climate change, and international peace and security would also be given attention.
Since 1993, CARICOM and Japan have enjoyed friendly relations and this year, 2014, has been designated the CARICOM-Japan Friendship Year to observe two decades of relationship in diverse fields.
Commenting on what could only be described as a frank, meaningful and results oriented meeting, Chair of the Council for Foreign and Community Affairs, Hon. Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Guyana’s Foreign Minister said, “every expectation” that the dialogue would “lead to a further consolidation and enrichment of a long-standing and much valued CARICOM-Japan partnership was met”.
The Community Strategic Plan identifies effective foreign policy coordination as an important enabler in building the Community’s resilience by positioning the Community in the global arena; facilitating cooperation and strategic alliances with like-minded countries and groups; promoting and protecting the interest of CARICOM and other small states to reduce vulnerability and to leverage resources for regional priorities.