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CARICOM And The US Make Up Over Haiti

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

06 April 2006

In the first major official meeting between CARICOM and the US since 2001, US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice met regional foreign ministers in the Bahamas last month. The parties agreed to forgive and forget their spat over the US role in the ouster of Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide in February 2004.

Secretary Rice welcomed CARICOM’s decision to re-engage Haiti, and to provide assistance for its institutional development. Both parties agreed on the importance of the international community remaining engaged in Haiti over the long term, in order to promote stability and socio-economic progress.

The Ministers and the Secretary of State reviewed initiatives to promote regional economic reform and integration, and underscored the importance of free trade as an engine of economic growth and development. They noted the significant progress made in restructuring the economies of the region through the creation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy – a vital component of which is a regional Development Fund. They proposed a re-configured US-CARICOM Trade and Investment Council, as well as an early meeting of CARICOM Trade Ministers and the United States Trade Representative.

In February, six Caricom member states formally signed a declaration of their governments' compliance with the provisions of the Treaty establishing the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSM). The countries, namely Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, became the first six Caricom countries to have signed on to the single market.

The six Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) agreed to a start date for compliance of June 30. The OECS states include Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Of the three remaining Member States, The Bahamas and Haiti have not signified their intention to participate in the CSME process and Montserrat - a British Dependency - is awaiting the necessary instrument of entrustment from the United Kingdom's government.

Very importantly for Barbados, Dr Rice agreed that the United States will support the CARICOM preparations for the security of Cricket World Cup 2007, with particular focus on border security.

"One would like to see this as the beginning of the new relationship between the US and Caricom ...," said Dominica's foreign minister Charles Savarin.

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