Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Honourable Hugh Todd, today joined Foreign Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in an inaugural meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, the Honourable Marc Garneau, during which among areas of interest, they discussed a coordinated response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, economic recovery, and climate resilience.
Minister Todd welcomed the opportunity to address the Group on the issue of Economic Recovery and Inclusive Growth. He emphasized the financing gap faced by the Caribbean region and stated that CARICOM Member States have experienced increased pressure on public health systems and social structures, thus escalating public debt and a decline in productive activities. “Our economies have had as the IMF describes it a ‘Cardiac Arrest’ and this is due to the economic dislocation associated with the pandemic,” the Foreign Minister said.
“Given the continued uncertainty regarding the virus and associated economic impacts, it is incumbent upon us to provide policy support for recovery that centralizes long-term resilience-building and inclusivity in the focus,” Minister Todd said. “We must address the high degree of informality in our services sector; lack of diversification in our production and export sectors; over-reliance on primary products; a high food import bill; preponderance of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs); and embrace e-Commerce,” he continued.
In closing, Minister Todd urged regional authorities to work together to build collective resilience through a stronger macroeconomic governance framework, thereby setting the region on a path to economic growth “that is more resilient to exogenous shocks.” He added that developing countries like Canada and intergovernmental organizations such as the G7 and G20 have an important role in shaping the macroeconomic governance framework, and welcomed Canada’s support and advocacy on access to financing and debt restructuring.
Today’s meeting was co-chaired by the Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration of Belize, the Honourable Eamon Courtenay.
The Canada-CARICOM Foreign Ministers Group serves as a platform for CARICOM and Canadian Foreign Ministers to discuss regional priorities including the impact of COVID-19 on regional economies and health care systems.
February 19, 2021