Grenada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Export Development Hon. Joseph Andall, led a delegation which participated in the first-ever Canada–Caricom Summit, hosted in Ottawa by Canada’s Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, from 17–19 October, 2023.
Held under the theme “Strategic Partners for a Resilient Future,” the Canada-Caricom Summit, which coincides with the Caribbean Community’s (Caricom) celebration of its 50th anniversary, was co-chaired by Prime Minister Trudeau and Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who is currently Chair of the Conference of Caricom Heads of Government.
One of the overarching highlights of this summit was the launch of a Strategic Partnership, establishing a new permanent mechanism for structured high-level engagement and follow-through on joint actions. The leaders reaffirmed their unwavering friendship, built on strong people-to-people, historical and cultural ties, shared economic interests, and a commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
Generally, deliberations at the summit focused on the key priorities of climate change, access to finance, regional and global security, and trade and investment.
Regarding climate change, leaders called for an intensified collaborative effort to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Recognising recent efforts on mitigation, adaptation, and the protection of biodiversity, they expressed the importance of practical actions, such as assistance on carbon pricing and operationalising a fund to compensate for loss and damage from climate change in the lead-up to COP28 and beyond.
The Caricom leaders at the summit welcomed Canada’s new support of $64.5 million in new climate financing, and $10 million for resilient agriculture systems.
Access To Finance
Addressing the issue of access to finance, the leaders acknowledged the particular vulnerabilities of Caricom countries to external shocks and offered perspectives on how to overcome systemic challenges in order to access finance. Focus was placed on reforming the international financial architecture, including the proposals of the Bridgetown Initiative.
Leaders agreed to work together in advancing solutions, such as new criteria to access finance at the Caribbean Development Bank, the widespread adoption of climate resilience debt clauses, and jointly advocating for common interests through Canada and Caricom members’ shared constituency at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Regarding regional security, the leaders focused mainly on the crisis in Haiti. They welcomed the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2699 (2023) adopted on 2 October 2023, and emphasised the importance of establishing a strong transitional government of unity to give legitimacy to the multinational security support mission (MSS).
The leaders fully supported the central role of Caricom and its Eminent Persons Group (EPG) in advancing political dialogue to establish a stable and representative arrangement that can effectively govern towards free and fair elections, and work with the international community to set the parameters for the MSS.
Canada’s coordinating role in building the Haitian National Police (HNP) capacity, including additional training support of the HNP, was also welcomed by the regional leaders.
The leaders also engaged on key security challenges in the region, including illicit trafficking of weapons and drugs, and surging violent crime. With regard to these areas of concern, Canada committed $6.6 million to tackle illegal arms trafficking in Haiti and the wider Caribbean, as well as $4.6 million to address gender-based violence and women’s rights in the Eastern Caribbean.
Global Peace & Security
Leaders also addressed the importance of Canada’s and Caricom’s common commitment to enhance peace and security in both the Western hemisphere and the wider world, including the situations in Venezuela and in the Middle East. A Joint Statement on Global and Regional Issues was released separately by leaders.
Trade and Investment
The Canadian leader and his Caricom counterparts also deliberated on growth opportunities in the region to deepen commercial ties between Canada and Caricom nations. Significantly, Caricom leaders welcomed Canada’s expansion of the Commonwealth Caribbean Countries Tariff (CCCT) programme, which gives countries in the region duty-free trade access to the Canadian market, to include textiles and apparel, as well as a new foreign labour programme for agriculture and fish processing under the Temporary Foreign Worker Programme.
Shared priority sectors outlined for trade and investment included agriculture, renewable energy and infrastructure.
Leaders also offered insights on addressing ongoing supply chain issues; increasing the movement of people, goods, and investments; facilitating educational exchanges; and critical development needs. The importance of engaging Caribbean diaspora communities in Canada to build strong and sustainable economies was also elaborated upon.
The following leaders participated in the Summit: Canada’s Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau; Antigua and Barbuda’s High Commissioner His Excellency Ronald Sanders; Bahamas’ Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis; Barbados’ Prime Minister Hon. Mia Mottley; Belize’s Prime Minister Hon. Johnny Briceño; Dominica’s Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, who co-chaired the first day of proceedings; Grenada’s Foreign Affairs, Trade and Export Development Minister Hon. Joseph Andall, who explained that Prime Minister Hon. Dickon Mitchell would also have been present, but for conflicting domestic national obligations.
Also in attendance were Guyana’s President Hon. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, who co-chaired the latter part of the proceedings, deputising for PM Skerrit, who had to make an early departure, necessitated by the threats of a late hurricane season weather system that was headed in the direction of Dominica; Haiti’s Prime Minister Hon. Ariel Henry; Jamaica’s Prime Minister Hon. Andrew Holness; St Kitts and Nevis’s Prime Minister Hon. Terrance Drew; St Lucia’s Prime Minister Hon. Philip Pierre; St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister Hon. Ralph Gonsalves; Suriname’s President Hon. Chandrikapersad Santokhi; Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Keith Rowley; and Caricom’s Secretary General, Carla Natalie Barnett.
Grenada’s delegation at the Summit included Permanent Secretary Roxie McLeish-Hutchinson and Consul General in Toronto His Excellency Gerry Hopkin.
Consulate General of Grenada in Toronto