PM Andrew Holness

Caribbean Invited to G-7 Summit

Kingston, JAMAICA —

The G-7 Summit provides a forum where the leadership of the countries of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom meet to set policies that not only impact their own countries, but indeed the world. Leaders of CARICOM will be participating in the summit scheduled for Charlevoix, Quebec from June 8-9.

The Chairman of the 15 member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping, President Jovenal Moise of Haiti and Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness are invited to be among the world leaders. It is an opportunity for these leaders to get a Caribbean agenda on the table or on the schedules for issues critical to the Caribbean, and there are several pressing issues.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada has already signaled his support in building resilient coastal communities. Trudeau is quoted to have said “our oceans and coasts are under considerable threat from increases in plastic pollution, more frequent and severe weather events, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing”. Trudeau added “resilient coastal communities and healthy oceans are vital to growing economies that work for everyone and that is why we are committed to working with others to protect the world’s oceans”. Clearly, in speaking about coastal communities and the vulnerability, the Caribbean region is foremost in mind. As a new hurricane season starts, the Caribbean countries are all under disaster preparedness exercises. The same pattern of disaster and recovery is anticipated, and the same disruption in the economies and dislocation of population is anticipated. It is time for the Caribbean leaders to craft a unified Regional Disaster Recovery Fund with a mind to well funded long term programs. This would eliminate individual Caribbean countries going to various donor countries, each with a different priority, and local demands that do not fit with an overall regional plan for sustainable development.

This piecemeal, individual country drives prevent the use of real technological advances and limits the region from developing strength looking to the future. This is one of these problems that Caribbean leaders must take a strong position on. A major part of the unusual weather pattern is due to some of the G-7 countries development pattern and coastal countries in the Caribbean pay the price.

The time for diplomatic niceties is long past, and the Caribbean Leaders must confront the world economic leaders, that it is a moral and humane obligation of these countries, not to ignore such a vexing problem in the Region. There are several Caribbean countries still suffering from the hurricane disasters of 2017, still not fully recovered, and no real plan of commitment from the G-7 countries. This includes Puerto Rico, a Commonwealth of the United States, which is suffering unbelievably for lack of resources. Trudeau meant well when he said, “for me, it was extremely important to bring leadership from the Caribbean to the G-7 talks”; he added “over the past decades, Canada has always been very close to working with our Caribbean friends and partners on a broad range of issues”. With Prime Minister Trudeau as an ally, the Caribbean leaders should use this opportunity to make significant breakthrough on these issues important to regional survival. Regional Disaster Funds is one, but so is Security, Financial Services and the correspondent banking issues.

We quite understand that the dynamic of this year’s Summit will be focused on the Trade War and the outrage of many of the G-7 participants at this move by President Trump to increase tariffs on many products of G-7 countries. The Trump effect on the Summit is looked upon as somewhat disconcerting. The Summit will be further overshadowed by the planned Summit by Trump with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, scheduled for June 12. Mr. Trump and his team will most likely be preoccupied with planning for that summit. Nonetheless, the Caribbean leaders attending the Summit must assert the issues impacting the Region. It might be just the right time to get the G-7 or maybe G-6 leaders to understand the needs of the Caribbean and its strategic position in global politics and positioning.

The Summit can prove its relevance on global issues by taking up such a highly public and publicly driven issue as the ongoing Caribbean Regional Disaster Funds and provide some hopeful solution.

The Caribbean Leaders attending the Summit must make the case.