CARICOM proceeding with Dutch territories’ applications for associate membership

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A section of the audience at the opening ceremony of the 29th Intersessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM

Even as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) continues to consider the creation of an Enlargement Policy, Heads of Government have mandated the Secretary-General to begin negotiations for Associate Membership by the Dutch territories of Curacao and Aruba.

During their Twenty-Ninth Inter-Sessional Meeting in Haiti, last week, the Heads of Government agreed that the Community would proceed, in the first instance, with those two applications. They said further consideration would be given to the applications from the French Overseas territories of Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana.

The mandate to Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque is to start talks with Curacao and Aruba to better determine their expectations of Associate Membership as well as what benefits this relationship could yield for the Community.

Their decisions were recorded in the Communique issued at the conclusion of the two-day meeting at the Port-au-Prince Marriott Hotel. 

Also in the context of CARICOM’s foreign policy coordination, Heads of Government reflected on the impact of some Member States’ inclusion in the list of ‘non-cooperative tax jurisdictions’ published by the European Union (EU) Council in December 2017. They also discussed other unilateral processes which labelled the Member States as tax havens. Deploring the “significant reputational damage” inflicted on Member States, Heads of Government reiterated that those actions occurred “outside of the established global inclusive processes which CARICOM States have endorsed and in which they continue to participate, often at significant cost, to advance the implementation of agreed international standards domestically.”

The Heads of Government recognised the need for Member States to continue to ensure that they met all requisite standards set by the globally recognised authorities with respect to global tax co-operation and related initiatives.  However, they denounced the unilateral processes underway in the EU as detrimental to Member States’ economic progress and efforts to achieve sustainable development. They agreed that because of shifting global standards, they should forge links beyond CARICOM.

Heads of Government have also mandated the Ministers of Finance and Central Bank Governors to meet expeditiously to consider proposals on a CARICOM Strategy which had been prepared by a CARICOM Technical Working Group and to formulate appropriate solutions to overcome this “egregious challenge”.

Heads of Government also acknowledged the importance of regional advocacy efforts and agreed to continue engaging international partners and raising the issues at various international fora.

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