BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Foreign Ministers met virtually on February 19 with their Canadian counterpart, the Hon. Marc Garneau, in the first virtual CARICOM-Canada Meeting of Foreign Ministers. St. Kitts and Nevis was represented by Foreign Minister, the Honourable Mark Brantley.
Their dialogue focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and equitable access to vaccines, economic recovery and inclusive growth, and climate resilience and sustainability – all key elements in the region’s efforts to build back better.
In leading the discussion on COVID-19: “Building Back Better,” Foreign Minister Brantley thanked the government of Canada for its assistance in helping to strengthen the region’s ability to respond to the range of challenges posed by COVID-19 by the provision of Personal Protection Equipment.
Ongoing support was offered by the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). Hon. Brantley stressed that “if ever there was a time for real dialogue to jointly address pressing issues in ways that will bring concrete benefit to our citizens, that time is clearly now.” He highlighted three critical and actionable areas for cooperation including health systems, vaccine access, and economic impact.
Noting that the “COVID damage is deep, the recovery will be long, and the vision must be bold,” Brantley sought to bring a sense of purposeful urgency for cooperation in addressing the global pandemic. He championed the idea of moving beyond old development paradigms to more “substantive cooperation for sustainable development” including in green investments, renewable energy, and the blue economy.
Given the profound impact of the pandemic on the travel and tourism industry in St. Kitts and Nevis, Minister Brantley seized on the opportunity to call for “the resumption of flights from Canada at the earliest possible opportunity,” and the continuation of the technical dialogue that began last year between Canada and CARICOM on safe travel and tourism.