Saint Vincent & the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves Friday assumed the Chairmanship of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and convened a virtual meeting of member countries to work together for the progress of the region.
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“Our CARICOM has chalked up impressive achievements in its four pillars of integration: functional cooperation, coordination of foreign policy, security collaboration, and economic integration, including Single Market trading arrangements. But the design of CARICOM itself highlights its possibilities and limitations, Gonsalves said.
"CARICOM was conceived and fashioned as a Community of independent, sovereign states entirely combined to pursue a series of objectives, measures, and tasks,” he explained.
At the handover ceremony, Gonsalves thanked CARICOM's outgoing President, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, for her work within the regional bloc.
The new president, who will guide the efforts of the Caribbean community in the next six months, established the reconstruction of economies and health systems as a priority to face the pandemic.
Besides insisting on the importance of the free movement of Caribbean peoples, Gonsalves called for strengthening democracy and ensuring the return of the cruise industry.
The online conference also included the CARICOM secretary Irwin LaRocque, Granada PM Keith Michell, Santa Lucia Pm Allan Chastanet, and Monserrat PM Joseph Farrel.
Currently, the CARICOM, which is a grouping of 15 member states and 5 associate members, is home to approximately 16 million citizens, 60 percent of whom are under the age of 30.