The following are remarks from Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell at the 3rd CARICOM–Mexico Summit held in Merida, Mexico on 29 April, 2014.
President of Mexico, Pena Nieto
Chairman of CARICOM, Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart
Heads of State and Heads of Government,
Ambassador Irwin La Roque, Secretary General of CARICOM
Distinguished Ministers of Foreign Affairs of CARICOM and Mexico
Ambassadors, Senior Officials
Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of the Media
I bring you warm and fraternal Spice Island greetings from the Government and People of Grenada.
It is for me a distinct pleasure and honour to be here at this the 3rd CARICOM–Mexico Summit. On behalf of my colleagues who have preceded me, I want to add my voice in thanking the Government and People of Mexico for the excellent arrangements made for this Summit.
There can be no denying that this is a relationship which has already yielded early dividends in our efforts at international technical cooperation. Our efforts have yielded measurable benefits in capacity building, particularly through the scholarship programs; disaster reduction and risk mitigation – a serious cause of debt and underdevelopment for many of our CARICOM States; and, in agriculture we have benefitted from technical cooperation actions that have enhanced our production capacity and productivity.
The challenge for us as we reflect on the road traveled over the past several years is to be flexible enough to redirect our actions in ways that will bring more tangible benefits to the mutual benefit of the people of CARICOM and Mexico.
Colleagues, it would be to our mutual advantage if we would realise our aspirations of a more connected region by bringing some concrete solutions to the issues of transport, particularly for the movement of our people, and trade in general. The ferry service mooted in some quarters, and a lasting solution to the issues which bedevil air transport, particularly for short-haul flights are urgent actions which must be addressed.
A concrete agenda also demands that we take note of the clamor by our people for more and greater diversity in training, particularly in technical and vocational subjects. This is in addition to the training opportunities which we are now afforded. The development literature is now replete with this recognition for skills development in a range of areas and subjects to support our development thrust in the key sectors and industries.
The challenge here too, is for us to focus on providing the greatest opportunities to the greatest numbers. A discussion of the greatest numbers automatically opens up a dialogue on the establishment of technical and vocational training centers of excellence in one or more of our countries. Colleagues, Grenada will be willing to host one of these Centers of Excellence, particularly given our geography and demographics.
As Prime Minister with responsibility in the Caribbean Community for ICT and Science and Technology, such a Center for ICT related themes and subjects would go a long way to completing our vision for CARICOM as an emerging ICT force, and too in advancing our march towards a Single ICT Regime for CARICOM in which small and not so small countries, the resource-poor and the resource-better offs, “can have a play.”
Colleagues, we are eager to see further advances in agriculture, indeed the fact that so much of CARICOM’s imports constitute food products which can be produced in the Caribbean and neighboring countries like Mexico, provides an undeniable basis for further actions.
We should all give our full support to a regimen for Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Measures, but we should seek to ensure that at some soon date, there is mutual recognition of these SPS Modalities and institutions among countries, including Mexico as a fillip to trade.
Colleagues, these are but a few of the concrete actions that we should consider important to recommit to as we leave Merida, re-energised and recommitted to strengthening the cooperation among CARICOM countries and Mexico.
Colleagues, our cooperation is deep and meaningful. It is one which is rooted in reciprocity. Ours is a cooperation which is flexible and responsive. This is why my Government is so deeply appreciative for the timely assistance committed by the Government of Mexico to help with the reconstruction of our Parliament building — the very symbol of our democratic institutions.
We are also publicly grateful for the commitment to assist in rehabilitation of our public library, which had ceased to function for a number of years. The public library also serves as a rich repository of our culture. These are much more than tokens of solidarity. These are the building blocks of trust, fraternalism and long lasting friendship for which generations of Grenadians will be forever thankful.
I thank you.