Trade and Investment Take Center Stage
In a bid to strengthen the relationship between Canada and Caribbean nations, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau successfully concluded the Canada-Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Summit in Ottawa today. The summit focused on a range of shared priorities, including climate change, economic growth for the middle class, and regional security. Over two days, leaders from both sides explored various avenues to deepen their ties and create new opportunities for businesses and workers.
Day One – Pledges for Climate and Economic Growth
On the first day of the summit, Prime Minister Trudeau announced a series of groundbreaking initiatives. These initiatives aim to address pressing concerns related to climate change, gender-based violence, and stability in the hemisphere. Importantly, they seek to provide support in response to ongoing crises, particularly in Haiti.
Day Two – Trade and Investment Forum
The second day of the summit was dedicated to fostering trade and investment partnerships between Canada and CARICOM nations. Prime Minister Trudeau, accompanied by several key ministers, presided over a trade and investment roundtable with CARICOM leaders and Canadian investors.
Their discussions covered strategies to diversify trade and expand investments in critical sectors such as financial services, resilient infrastructure, clean tech, information and communications technologies, and natural resources management. These deliberations took into account the recovery process from the COVID-19 pandemic that Caribbean countries are still navigating.
Expanding Business Opportunities
During the summit, Prime Minister Trudeau unveiled Canada’s commitment to expanding the Commonwealth Caribbean Countries Tariff Program (CCCT). This program already provides 18 Commonwealth Caribbean countries with duty-free trade access to the Canadian market for the majority of their goods. Now, textiles and apparel will be added to the list, boosting opportunities for trade. Additionally, Canada plans to simplify rules of origin and shipping documentation requirements to make it easier for businesses to leverage preferential tariff programs.
Moreover, a new foreign labor program for agriculture and fish processing will be implemented under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, reinforcing Canada’s commitment to supporting Caribbean workers and businesses.
Shared Commitment to Democracy and Human Rights
Beyond economic and trade discussions, leaders reaffirmed their shared commitment to democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights, and the rules-based international order. Canada and Caribbean partners have pledged to collaborate in building a more secure, stable, and prosperous future, especially in countries like Haiti, Venezuela, and the Middle East.
Strengthening Longstanding Ties
The bonds between Canadian and Caribbean communities, businesses, and people are deeply rooted. With the progress achieved during this summit and the establishment of the new Canada-CARICOM Strategic Partnership, both sides will continue to work hand in hand. Their joint mission is to create job opportunities, combat climate change, and ensure the safety of their populations.
Prime Minister Trudeau’s Vision
Speaking on the summit’s accomplishments, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated,
“In an uncertain world, it is by working together as friends and partners that we will build economies that work for the middle class, keep our air and water clean, and keep people safe.
Over the last two days, as Canada has hosted Caribbean leaders for this Summit, we have done just that. I’m looking forward to everything we can do next to grow and deepen our longstanding partnership.”
Key Figures and Trade Stats
Accompanying Prime Minister Trudeau at the summit were key ministers from Canada, including the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, as well as the Ministers of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions, Intergovernmental Affairs, Foreign Affairs, International Development, National Defense, Export Promotion, International Trade, and Economic Development, and Environment and Climate Change.
In terms of trade, it’s notable that in 2022, Canada’s two-way merchandise trade with CARICOM countries reached $1.8 billion, and in 2021, bilateral trade in services amounted to $3.9 billion. Additionally, Canada recently took over the chairmanship of the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) Board of Governors from Saint Lucia in June 2023.
As the Canada-CARICOM Summit comes to a close, the strengthened bonds and cooperative efforts between Canada and the Caribbean nations signal a promising future of shared prosperity, sustainable development, and enhanced regional security.