Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday concluded the historic Canada-Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Summit in Ottawa, pledging to strengthen trade and investment with the region.
According to a statement from the Office of the Canada Prime Minister, Trudeau and Caribbean leaders “advanced shared priorities to fight climate change, grow strong economies for the middle class and strengthen regional security.”
On Friday, during the second day of the Summit, Trudeau convened a trade and investment roundtable with CARICOM leaders and Canadian investors to deepen business ties and create new opportunities for workers.
The leaders discussed ways to diversify trade and expand investment in key sectors, like financial services, resilient infrastructure, clean tech, information and communications technologies, and natural resources management, the statement said.
It said they also discussed shared work to build sustainable economies that work for everyone, as Caribbean countries continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
To create new opportunities for businesses and workers, Trudeau announced that Canada is expanding the Commonwealth Caribbean Countries Tariff program (CCCT), which gives countries in the region duty-free trade access to the Canadian market for the vast majority of goods, to include textiles and apparel.
Canada is also helping businesses take advantage of its preferential tariff programs by simplifying rules of origin and shipping documentation requirements.
For businesses in Canada and Caribbean workers, the prime minister reiterated the Government of Canada’s commitment to implement a new foreign labor program for agriculture and fish processing under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
Leaders also discussed their shared commitment to democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and the rules-based international order, the statement said.
It said Canada will continue to work with Caribbean partners to “build a more secure, stable, and prosperous future – including for people in Haiti, Venezuela and the Middle East.”
“The ties between Canadian and Caribbean communities, businesses and people run deep,” the statement said. “With progress made at this Summit, and the new Canada-CARICOM Strategic Partnership, Canada and the CARICOM will continue working together to create jobs, fight climate change, and keep people safe.”
“In an uncertain world, it is by working together as friends and partners that we will build economies that work for the middle class, keep our air and water clean and keep people safe,” Trudeau said. “Over the last two days, as Canada has hosted Caribbean leaders for this Summit, we have done just that. I’m looking forward to everything we can do next to grow and deepen our longstanding partnership.”
On Thursday, the first day of the Canada-CARICOM Summit, Trudeau announced new funding initiatives to help address shared priorities on climate change and economic growth, respond to gender-based violence, and “build a more secure, stable, and prosperous hemisphere”, including in response to the ongoing crises in Haiti.
Through the Summit, the statement said Trudeau “engaged directly” with the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, current Chair of CARICOM; Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley; President of Guyana Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali; Prime Minister of Haiti Ariel Henry; and Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness.
The Canadian Government said that, in 2022, Canada’s two-way merchandise trade with CARICOM countries reached CAN$1.8 billion. In 2021, bilateral trade in services reached CAN$3.9 billion.
The chairmanship of the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) Board of Governors was handed to Canada from Saint Lucia in June 2023.
The Commonwealth Caribbean Countries Tariff program (CCCT) is a non-reciprocal tariff preference program, established under the 1986 CARIBCAN agreement, that provides 18 Commonwealth Caribbean countries with duty-free trade access to the Canadian market for the vast majority of their goods.