CARICOM, US Ambassador Meet

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - November 23, 2011

By the Caribbean Journal staff

CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque and US Ambassador to CARICOM Brent Hardt met yesterday in Georgetown for a series of talks on issues including trade, security and climate change.

“The United States greatly values the close and friendly relations we have forged with the member states of the Caribbean Community,” Hardt said. “It is a fortuitous coincidence that both the founding of the United States with the Declaration of Independence and the founding of the Caribbean Community with the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas took place on July 4th.”

Hardt called back to the 1997 Bridgetown Summit, when US and Caribbean Heads of State pledged to strengthen cooperation, something affirmed at the Conference of the Caribbean in 2007.

He also cited the key role CARICOM played in ensuring free and fair elections in Haiti.

LaRocque also spoke of the longstanding relationship between the two parties.

“The United States of America and CARICOM have enjoyed robust and friendly relations for many years,” LaRocque said. “The relationship has evolved, changing and adapting, as our respective domestic circumstances and geopolitics required.”

LaRocque cited visits to the region by three senior officials in President Barack Obama’s cabinet in the last five months, including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder, who visited Barbados and Trinidad last week.

The Secretary General and Ambassador Hardt talked security, which has been a major theme of cooperation, along with several other issues, including trade, a new diaspora engagement alliance and climate change.

On the trade front, Hardt said the US was committed to concluding a trade and investment framework agreement, and would “welcome” an early meeting of the Trade and Investment Council.

“The extension of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act for a further ten year period through 2020 will ensure continued preferential access to the US market for Caribbean products that can stimulate growth and job creation in the Caribbean region,” Hardt said.

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