The Foreign Minister’s visit to Barbados follows the cancellation of a trip by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet with CARICOM Heads during their Meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Prime Minister Trudeau had called CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness and CARICOM Secretary-General to indicate that due to pressing domestic matters he had to forgo travelling to Barbados to meet with his CARICOM counterparts.
He reiterated his desire to strengthen the ties between the Region and Canada and said he looked forward to another opportunity to interact with CARICOM Heads of Government.
During the hour-long talks, PM Mottley spoke about Barbados’ economy, saying that although the country was not fully out of the woods, it was a long way from where it was two years ago.
The Prime Minister stressed that sustained growth was required to take it to the next level and said Government was committed to ensuring it occurred.
She noted that Canada had assisted Barbados in a number of areas over the years, and identified two new programmes for which assistance was required.
She noted that Barbados and Canada had worked very closely in the past, and underscored the importance of that relationship growing.
Following the meeting with the CARICOM Chairman, Foreign Minister Champagne met with CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.
One of the main reasons for Trudeau’s planned visit to the biannual meeting of CARICOM, was to bolster his efforts to secure votes in the Caribbean for Canada's bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
Canada has traditionally had close ties to CARICOM thanks to their shared British and French colonial pasts and the provision of millions of dollars in Canadian foreign aid after many of those countries gained independence in the 1960s, '70s and early '80s.
In addition, Canada is home to a significant number of CARICOM’s diaspora; it is a major source of tourists to the region; and Canadian private sector investment in the region in a variety of industries, including banking, tourism and mining, is huge -- direct investment is in excess of US$75 billion, and trade in services is roughly US$3 billion annually.
It was expected that CARICOM would use the occasion to push for a restart of the CARICOM/Canada Trade talks which ran aground in 2014 without any decision on a free trade agreement which was the object of the talks.
Trudeau used similar summits in Ethiopia and Germany last week to make his pitch for a seat on the Security Council to a large cross-section of leaders from across Africa and Europe.
Canada, Norway and Ireland are vying for two seats available to Western European countries as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. Members of the UN will vote in June, with the winners sitting for two-year terms.
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