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Caribbean Courts Mexico as Ally in the G20

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 22 2012 (IPS) - The Caribbean Community bloc (Caricom) is lobbying Mexico to use its influence as chair of the G20, which controls 90 percent of world trade, to promote the interests of the Caribbean and other small island developing states when it meets in June.

Of special interest to the Caribbean is reform of the international financial institutions (IFIs) such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Last month, Caribbean leaders met briefly with Calderon in Cartagena to express concern that since many Caricom members are now classified as small, highly indebted middle-income countries, they are prohibited from accessing the concessional facilities and instruments from the IFIs.

Arriving here for a one-day summit Monday, Mexican President Felipe Calderon vowed that the region could “count on Mexico as a friend and partner who will represent them actively and proudly in the G20”.

“For us, it is very important that the perspectives of other developing countries be heard on the issue of moving forward on the world economic issues,” he said.

Host Prime Minister Freundel Stuart criticised the “slow and uneven” pace of reform of the IFIs and the “continued lack of representativeness and transparency of the G20”.

“As the Commonwealth secretary general has recently said, (the G20) may represent 90 percent of global GDP (gross domestic product) but certainly not 90 percent of the world’s countries,” he noted.

Stuart cited “the worrying signs that we have moved from the rich man’s club of the G7 to the big man’s club of the G20, whose members are more united in telling non-G20 countries what they should do than in prescribing to those within their own fold.”

He also lamented “the constant tilting of the playing field and moving the goalpost in the G20’s response toward Caribbean-based international financial centres, notwithstanding the fact that the bulk of proven money laundering, inadequate regulation and tax avoidance has occurred in the financial centres of Europe and the United States of America.”

Caricom chair Desi Bouterse, who is also the president of Dutch- speaking Suriname, said that there was agreement to collaborate with Mexico on a range of areas, from tourism and transport to trade, investment and national security.

Mexico, which in 1974 became the first country to sign a Joint Commission with Caricom, has also signed two agreements to boost cooperation on largely high-tech education and rebuilding earthquake- devastated Haiti.

President Calderon also promised to aid the Caribbean in combating natural disasters and climate change.

“In the environment, we committed to continue to fight climate change and to take into account in particular the impact of climate change on small island states, global warning and growth of the level of the sea, as well as to renew serious international long term action in terms of mitigation and adaptation,” Calderon said.

“Also to improve the life of our people and to preserve their natural legacy, we have also agreed to Mexican support to Caricom countries to support them in projects in prevention of natural disaster. Mexico committed to donate computer equipment to contribute to establishing a territorial system for information for management of disaster risks.”

Stuart was hopeful that Mexico would adopt and promote the Barbados Declaration reached at the recent United Nations-sponsored Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Achieving Sustainable Energy for All conference here, which calls for universal access to modern and affordable renewable energy services, while protecting the environment, ending poverty and creating new opportunities for economic growth.

The Barbados Declaration emphasises that there are commercially feasible options in many small island states for providing energy such as wind, solar, geothermal, and oceans energy.

“However, these technologies must be made accessible, affordable and adaptable to the needs and particular circumstances of SIDS communities,” states the declaration. “In this regard, we strongly urge the international community, particularly developed countries, to ensure the provision of financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building to SIDS.”

“We need to reassert the grave threat posed by climate change and the urgency of agreeing on a comprehensive and ambitious response and here we know that Mexico through its national commitments and domestic legislation has already led by example,” Stuart said this week.

“Our hope that Mexico will champion and promote the recently adopted Barbados Declaration on achieving sustainable energy for all in the small island developing states,” he added.

Calderon said there was also agreement with the regional leaders to exploit the “huge potential” for trade, noting “in terms of economics, we agreed to foster integration amongst our nations to heighten regional competitiveness.

“The potential for growth is huge and we agreed to continue to work to unleash that potential,” he told reporters.


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