Strengthening trade and investment with Caribbean countries at the Canada-CARICOM Summit
This week, we held a summit with CARICOM, the Caribbean Community, here in Ottawa. It was an opportunity for us to kick off the new strategic partnership between Canada and the Caribbean Community. This is a step that will make our ties even stronger and will help us work on our shared priorities.
It was a great honour for us to host the first-ever in Canada, CARICOM-Canada Summit. It’s always better to see each other face to face, especially when we have so many important issues to tackle, like creating good jobs, making life more affordable, growing the middle class, fighting climate change and keeping people safe. I want to thank all the leaders who visited us this week, thank you for being true partners, thank you for your engagement and thank you for being such strong voices for your region and your hemisphere.
We’re holding this summit this week at a time of great turbulence, conflict in the Middle East is reverberating around the world, Russia’s war in Ukraine continues to rage on, conditions in Haiti remain heartbreaking. Our citizens are living the devastating realities of climate crisis, whether that’s wildfires in Canada or hurricanes and rising sea levels across the Caribbean. We’re facing supply chain issues, global inflation and food insecurity, so in times like these, it is so important that we strengthen our relationship with friends and like-minded partners.
Canada and CARICOM members are countries that have diverse communities. We believe in democracy and the rule of law, and we know that by working together we can find solutions that lead to security and prosperity.
This week was an opportunity to cooperate and discuss regional and global challenges, including and especially Haiti, but also Venezuela and the Middle East. The ties between Canadian and Caribbean communities, businesses and people run deep, and we’re making these ties even stronger. Yesterday, we focused on many priorities, not only did we talk about fighting climate change, but we also talked about how protecting the environment is good for our economies.
I announced a new commitment of up to $58.5 million in partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank to support renewable energy projects in the region, and $6 million through the Caribbean Climate Smart Fund for resilient and renewable energy systems. Clean, reliable, affordable energy is a great example of how climate action and economic growth can and must go together.
Yesterday, we also discussed ways to increase our countries’ resiliency in the face of natural disasters that are becoming stronger and more frequent as a result of climate change. We will announce … we announced that we will strengthen coordination between the Canadian Armed Forces and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency to be able to respond more quickly during natural disasters.
In addition to climate action, we looked at the ways Canada can continue to help reforming the International Financial Architecture so that developing and middle-income countries can access the financing they need. We also announced that Canada is expanding the Commonwealth Caribbean Countries Tariff program, which gives countries in the region duty-free access to the Canadian market. And we talked about how our commitment… we talked about our commitment to implement a new foreign labour program for agriculture and fish processing under our temporary foreign workers program.
Of course, many of our meetings also focused on the issue of security in the region, including Haiti. Yesterday, I announced new support measures to help Haitians fight violence and corruption. Since 2022, Canada has committed more than $300 million in international assistance to respond to the crisis in Haiti. We have also sanctioned 28 individuals and have provided technical and tactical assistance to the Haitian National Police. We will continue to be there to support Haitians.
Canada and CARICOM will continue to work together as partners to build a more stable, secure and prosperous hemisphere. Thank you, and happy to pass it over to President Ali of Guyana. It was such a pleasure to see you and all of our colleagues here at CARICOM this week, but lots more to do, lots of positive momentum, and I look forward to it, not just in Trinidad and in Guyana, but right across the Caribbean.