By Shermain Bique-Charles
Chairman of Caricom, Prime Minister Gaston Browne, is pitching for September 7 to be set aside annually as ‘African Caricom Day”.
This was one of three suggestions he handed down during an address at the inaugural Africa-Caricom Summit on Tuesday.
“First, that we should create a Forum of African and Caribbean Territories and States (FACTS), managed jointly by the Secretariats of the African Union and Caricom.
“Second, we should nominate this day, September 7th, in every year going forward as Africa-Caricom Day,” Browne said.
Browne also suggested that every year hereafter, the Africa-Caricom summit should be repeated on September 7 to analyse the global situation and the countries’ place within it; to discuss initiatives and programmes; and to authorise joint actions.
“We should charge the Secretariats of the African Union and Caricom to present to us within six months of today, for approval at our meeting next year, the Founding Charter and a Memorandum of Operation of our Forum, including proposals to overcome existing obstacles to trade and investment.
“Consideration should be given to a multilateral air services agreement, and an investment protection, as well as a double taxation agreement between African and Caricom states,” he added.
PM Browne also used the opportunity to speak about vaccines for regional countries, saying to those who attended the virtual summit that they should not allow systems to continue to control, constrain, and capture small island states.
This, according to Browne, is starkly illustrated by the global control by a few rich countries of the production and distribution of vital vaccines to suppress the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Whereas, 70 percent of the European Union and almost 60 percent of North Americans are fully vaccinated, only three percent of the African continent can say the same.
“This pattern of inequity is obvious in its ugliness and prevalence. Therefore, we must act together to change it,” he said.
The Antiguan and Barbudan prime minister ended by encouraging Caricom and African leaders to work towards the establishment of structures of cooperation to promote mutual socio-economic interests; increase in investment and trade; and people to people exchanges between Africa and the Caribbean.
“We should resist being pushed to the margins of international decision-making and collaborate on decisions to restructure the global financial architecture, on global taxation, de-risking, climate change and reparations, among others,” he said.