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Monday, May 29, 2006 

Caribbean grappling with a range of challenges
Web Posted - Mon May 29 2006
THE Caribbean has been challenged to find ways to revitalise its relationship with Canada. The challenge has come from Dame Billie Miller, Barbados Senior Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.

She spoke at a specially convened Inter-American Dialogue/FOCAL forum that explored a range of policy issues and related challenges the Caribbean is grappling with. Dame Billie characterized the gathering as an important opportunity to focus attention on the long-standing friendship between Canada and the Caribbean that needs to be revitalised at this time.

With a view to determine areas and how the relationship between Canada and the Caribbean could be strengthened, participants examined challenges facing Caribbean countries as they relate to Trade and Economic Development, Social and Health issues, Security, and Migration matters.

The meeting also explored how Caribbean countries are addressing the challenges that confront them, whether Canada and the international community (including international and regional institutions) are contributing effectively to national and regional efforts in this regard, and what more Canada and the international community could and should be doing to support these efforts.

In identifying specific measures to enhance ties between Canada and the Caribbean, that are already broadly positive in nature, the intention of the forum was to generate new ideas for future areas of cooperation that can be advanced by policy makers in Canada and the Caribbean. Director-General of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM) Ambassador Dr. Richard Bernal reiterated the on-going interest of CARICOM in securing a modern, comprehensive trade agreement with Canada.
He emphasised the Region's readiness to commence negotiations with the Canadian Government in this regard.

The one-day forum took place in Washington, DC, and was chaired by former Canadian Prime Minister Hon. Joe Clark. It brought together policy makers, academics, diplomats, experts in Caribbean affairs and senior officials from various intergovernmental organisations, including Sir Ronald Sanders and Professors Anthony Bryan and Anthony Maingot.

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