Andrew Holness pulls out of CARICOM meeting

Prime Minister, Andrew Holness

Jamaican Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, will not be attending the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) 31st intersessional meeting that will be held in Bridgetown, Barbados on today.

This is the first meeting since Holness’s contentious meeting with United States secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.

Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness (right) greets US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo (left)

Holness was publicly criticised by Caricom’s chairman, and Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley for attending a meeting in which Pompeo handpicked the countries he wanted to attend.

“As chairman of Caricom, it is impossible for me to agree that my foreign minister should attend a meeting with anyone to which members of Caricom are not invited,” Mottley declared before Pompeo arrived on January 21.

Prime Minister of Barbados and CARICOM’s Chairman, Mia Mottley

This position was shared by Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Keith Rowley and Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, among others.

For this meeting, Caricom heads are scheduled to deliberate on a regional approach to the coronavirus (Covid-19) as well as the continuing challenges posed by non-communicable diseases.

The leaders are also expected to address crime, violence, and security issues affecting the region

They will also examine the status of implementation of provisions of the Caricom Single Market and Economy.

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For this, Caricom leaders are expected to have an engagement with representatives of the region’s private sector, labour, and civil society.

The meeting is also expected to discuss digital transformation in Caricom and an action plan for elimination of regional roaming charges.

The need for ongoing advocacy against the challenges of blacklisting, de-risking, and withdrawal of correspondent banking services is also expected to get the attention of the heads of government.

They are also expected to discuss a proposed Caricom/African Summit, among a number of other foreign and community relations matters.

Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, was scheduled to address the opening session. But he cancelled his trip amid criticisms over his Government’s handling of anti-pipeline protests which have affected rail service in the country.

Canada’s Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne will attend the Caricom meeting in place of Trudeau.