promoting investment: Winston Dookeran

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Dookeran: Region must woo private sector $$

Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Dookeran presented a proposal on "Introducing the Convergence Model of Integrated Production" at the 18th Ordinary Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) which started last Friday in Panama City, Panama.

The proposal speaks to redefining the integration process in the context of production integration, not for the region's economic space but for building competitive industries globally.

The meeting was presided by the vice-minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama, Francisco Álvarez de Soto, who chaired this meeting alongside the minister of Foreign Affairs of Haiti, Pierre Richard Casimir; the sub-secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United Mexican States, Vanessa Rubio; and the Secretary General of the ACS.

Mexico has now assumed the position of chair of the Ministerial Council for the period 2013-2014. This position was previously held by Panama for one year.

During his presentation, Dookeran mentioned that "the ACS is viewed as an important component in the regional integration architecture and will provide an invaluable forum for the engagement of the private sector and for the collaboration to engender production financing and investments flows, which will drive the processes involved in the integrated production processes."

He made a call to his counterparts to adopt the proposal, which will be submitted for consideration of the Heads of State at the Fifth Summit of the ACS.

Dookeran also referred to the upcoming Conference for Ministers ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) meeting which will be convened from March 7 to 9 in Bogotá, Colombia.

He suggested regional organisations such as the ACS, SICA (Central American Integration System) and Caricom (Caribbean Community) should take the opportunity at this meeting to engage in discussions on incorporating efforts to integrate the private sector to facilitate an influx of capital and investment in the region.

In the context of the Fifth Summit of the ACS, Casimir indicated the summit will be an opportunity for the association to strengthen its position, both regionally and internationally. Moreover, it will give the ACS more visibility to better fulfil its founding objectives.

The minister further stressed that he senses a new dynamism within the association which heralds a new era for the ACS and the revitaliaation of relations between members and associate members.

Following this discourse, Ambassador Alfonso Múnera, Secretary General of the ACS, mentioned that "the Haiti Summit will be historic, sealing a new life for the association as an organisation that will assist in building relations between Caribbean islands and the Continental Caribbean."

The meeting facilitated dialogue for concrete action where the minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, María Ángela Holguín Cuella, proposed a meeting with regional airlines to promote and facilitate air connectivity among ACS countries in the greater Caribbean.

The Ministerial Council appointed three new directors: Julio Eduardo Orozco from Guatemala, Alberto Duran Espaillat from the Dominican Republic and Dr Janine Dawkins from Jamaica, who will head the directorates of Sustainable Tourism, Trade Development and External Economic Relations and Disaster Risk Reduction, respectively.

The meeting also approved the chairmanship of the Special Committees led by: Disaster Risk Reduction (Honduras), Transport (Suriname), Tourism (Martinique), Trade (Colombia), Budget and Administration (Mex- ico) and the Special Fund (Panama).

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