Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Chastanet: Caricom irrelevant to the US?

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Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, has asserted that Caricom needs to speak with a unified voice.

While noting that Saint Lucia completely supports the United States and cherishes a lot of that country’s values, Chastanet told the Times that by not speaking with one voice, Caricom has marginalized itself.

“We have become irrelevant,” the Saint Lucia Prime Minister asserted.

Chastanet said he was disappointed that the Caribbean was not at a meeting in Ottawa between Canada, Mexico and the United States.

He explained that there has been a long-standing agreement called – the Three Borders.

According to the PM, Mexico, the Caribbean and Canada share borders with the United States and have always had preferential treatment from the United States.

But he observed that the Caribbean was not represented at the Ottawa meeting.

“The fact that we were not at that meeting, the fact that a lot of the things that were given to us initially that gave us an advantage we have lost and when we look at the amount of money that is being spent in the Caribbean in expectation they have for us to be able to provide proper security in this region is insufficient,” Chastanet told the Times in an exclusive interview.

He noted that added to that, is the situation that is taking place with correspondent banking.

According to Chastanet, that is a potential crisis in the making.

He expressed the view Caricom heads of government at their last meeting in Guyana, recognized the need to speak with one voice not only on the banking issue, but a lot of others as well.

“We need to take responsibility and engage the US in a different way, which means that all of us need to do more lobbying, become more familiar with the American political system, more familiar with state politics – meaning Governors, Senators and Congressmen, as well as on a national basis,” Chastanet explained.

He said that more importantly there are a lot of businesses, including cruise lines,  that need to be engaged to ensure that there are favourable policies towards allowing the Caribbean to grow.

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