Caribbean Community leaders agreed last week to regularly consult with associate members like the Virgin Islands before the annual July meetings of their Conference of Heads of Government.
The agreement — which Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley said he pushed for — was included in the communique issued following the conference’s 45th regular meeting on July 3-5 in Trinidad and Tobago, where Caricom also celebrated its 50th anniversary.
“The commitment in the meeting communique was one of the primary recommendations of a Caricom special consultation organised at the request of Premier Wheatley to discuss near and long-term Caricom support to associate members to support their social, political, economic and sustainable development,” according to a press release issued Monday by Dr. Wheatley’s special envoy, Benito Wheatley.
“The heads of government also expressed their desire for Martinique and Curacao to become associate members as soon as possible.”
Dr. Wheatley praised Caricom’s outgoing chairman, Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis, for deepening the organisation’s engagement with associate members, according to the release.
“Caricom has embraced its entire family,” he said. “That also includes the five current associate members of Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands. They enrich Caricom and add value in a variety of ways, especially where they have an expertise or competence such as financial services.”
For their part, Dr. Wheatley added, the associate members also “gain and learn from the experience” of the full members.
“I am very grateful for Caricom’s expression of support to associate members on its 50th anniversary and look forward to Martinique and Curacao joining the ranks of associate members in due course,” he said.
Dr. Wheatley and other heads of government also discussed trade, food security, regional security, climate change and international finance, among other topics.
Special guests at the 50th anniversary celebration included United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Rwanda President Paul Kagame, South Korea Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, and members of the US Congress.
Dr. Wheatley was joined by his special envoy as well as Dwynel Davis, the deputy director of the International Affairs Secretariat, and Xyrah Wheatley, assistant secretary for external affairs.
Caricom was established on July 4, 1973, and the VI became an associate member in July 1991.