CARICOM, Korea formalise decade-old friendship

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Deputy Secretary-General, CARICOM Secretariat Ambassador Manorma Soeknandan (r) and Republic of Korea Representative to CARICOM Ki-Mo Lim.

CARICOM, Korea formalise decade-old friendship

CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Republic of Korea earlier today formalised a decade-old friendship with the accreditation of the first non-permanent Plenipotentiary representative of the East Asian country to CARICOM.

The deputy secretary-general of CARICOM, Ambassador Manorma Soeknandan, accepted the letter of credence from H.E. Ki-Mo Lim in a simple ceremony at the headquarters of the CARICOM secretariat June 12.

St. Kitts and Nevis is a member of CARICOM, as defined on its own website, as a grouping of 20 countries home to approximately 16 million citizens, “60 [percent] of whom are under the age of 30, and from the main ethnic groups of Indigenous Peoples, Africans, Indians, Europeans, Chinese and Portuguese. The community is multi-lingual; with English as the major language[,] complemented by French and Dutch and variations of these, as well as African and Indian expressions.”

Soeknandan said CARICOM welcomed and celebrated this formal step toward a more “institutionalised partnership and enduring relationship” with Korea. Underscoring the value of longstanding relations at a time when the international community was increasingly uncertain and unpredictable, she said CARICOM looked to like-minded countries, like Korea, and to multilateral, regional and international organizations, for support in protecting its interests. In this context, she said CARICOM faced considerable challenges in accessing concessional financing due to graduation as a result of the use of per-capita income as the sole criteria for measuring development.

Noting that the increasing vulnerability to climate events remained the single biggest threat to Small Island and Low-Lying Coastal Developing States (SIDs) like those of CARICOM, the deputy secretary-general told Lim that the community was heartened by South Korea’s recent affirmation of its continued commitment to addressing the threat of climate change and its continued support for the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Saying that given the region was the most prone to natural disasters and for the community, climate change was an existential threat, the Paris Agreement “encompassed the hope of our generations for an enduring existence,” she said.

CARICOM and Korea held its first consultation and cooperation mechanism meeting in January 2007. During the last 10 years, the friendship has deepened through the High-Level Caribbean Partnership forums held annually in Korea. Earlier this year, the inaugural CARICOM-Korea High-Level Meeting was held in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

These meetings, the deputy secretary-general noted, facilitated the exchange of views on strategic cooperation in various fields, including climate change, the 2030 Development Agenda, energy and food security, ICT and E-Government, health, and education. They have also facilitated people-to-people contact and increased bilateral technical and political cooperation.

As she congratulated Korea on the recent election of President Moon Jae-in, Soeknandan said the community looked forward to working with the East Asian country in implementing the commitments undertaken in the Joint Statement of the Inaugural CARICOM-Korea High-Level meeting. “We thank the government of the Republic of Korea for its support and we extend our support for peace on the Korean peninsula,” she stated.

For his part, Lim said he anticipated Korea’s partnership with CARICOM would continue to grow stronger and that the accreditation would mark another turning point in the evolution of the “excellent friendship.”

Describing the Montego Bay CARICOM-Korea High-Level meeting as a “milestone in elevating the level of dialogue and strengthening tangible cooperation between the two sides,” he added that the joint statement, unanimously adopted, signalled the strong will and commitment of both sides to fortify the bonds between the two regions.

He described CARICOM as a leading group in the international community’s efforts regarding climate change and sustainable development goals and a model example of regional cooperation and integration.