Christie courts Cuba partnership
By K. QUINCY PARKER
Guardian Business Editor
The Bahamas affirmed its support for a move to end the United States embargo against Cuba, as the heads of state of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Cuba adopted the Declaration of Havana on Monday at the close of the fifth CARICOM-Cuba Summit.
Prime Minister Perry Christie asserted that CARICOM and Cuba have always been able to overcome challenges and to develop strategies for mutual advantage.
“In fact, our forty-one years of diplomatic relations have been markedly fruitful as a result of functional cooperation in the areas of health, education, sports, culture, agriculture, disaster management, energy and construction,” Christie said, addressing the summit in Havana on Monday.
“We must continue to support each other in international fora, always providing reciprocal support for our initiatives, whether it is in advocacy for the rejection of any blockade against Cuba; support for the reclassification of middle income economies; negotiations for a strong post-2015 agenda that favors small island developing states; support for Cuba’s leading role in the CELAC process; and support for candidacies for election or appointment to multilateral bodies,” he said.
The prime minister said that The Bahamas and Cuba must continue dialogue on facilitating joint ventures in the tourism industry, particularly in concretizing the concept of multi-destination marketing initiatives and packages.
“This would surely make our region more competitive with other regions in the global tourism market,” he said.
Noting that transportation is key to national and economic development and the travel routes of both countries’ national carriers, Christie said Bahamasair and Cubana need to be further expanded to facilitate tourism, travel and international trade.
“The Bahamas, like Cuba, is also interested in seeking out new strategic partnerships for investment in renewable energy; partnerships that will facilitate access to new capital, more efficient technologies and new markets,” he said.
Christie also welcomed ongoing progress towards the finalization of a CARICOM-Cuba trade agreement, and said that at a bilateral level, negotiations for two Bahamas/Cuba Agreements for Cooperation in Animal Health and Plant Health are now well advanced.
Those issues and more were enshrined in the Declaration of Havana adopted on Monday, wherein CARICOM and Cuba committed to strengthen South-South cooperation as an expression of solidarity and the promotion of bilateral and regional programs as well as triangular cooperation for development.
In the declaration, heads of state - citing the cooperation between Cuba and CARICOM in health, the development of human resources, construction and sports - reiterated a commitment to continue promoting social initiatives as well as the implementation of projects to improve air and sea infrastructure and connectivity, and to broaden economic and trade relations through the implementation of the revised trade and economic cooperation agreement between CARICOM and Cuba.
The declaration also hails progress in the negotiations to expand market access and improve economic cooperation under the trade and economic cooperation agreement. Heads of state noted a desire to conclude negotiations by the end of the second quarter of 2015.
December 10, 2014