Trudeau announces additional support for the Caribbean

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday announced additional support for the Caribbean, including security and other assistance specifically for Haiti.

Justin Trudeau

He made the announcement at the 44th Conference of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in The Bahamas.

Trudeau told Caribbean leaders at the Nassau summit that he wanted to mark the 50th anniversary of CARICOM with renewed partnership between Canada and the regional grouping.

Noting the challenges created by climate change and that “Caribbean nations understand the issue better than most,” Trudeau commended the regional heads for becoming global leaders on climate action.

“To build on this, today I am announcing CAD$44.8 million in new funding to tackle the climate crisis in the Caribbean,” he said.

“This funding will support projects with regional organizations like the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund that will improve marine and coastal ecosystem management, increase water security, and help governments better respond to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters,” Trudeau added.

Addressing the issue of trade, Trudeau said that in 2021 Canada’s two-way merchandise trade with CARICOM countries reached CAD$1.9 billion, with bilateral trade in services reaching CAD$3.9 billion.

To ensure such trade continues, he said Canada is seeking a renewal of its waiver from the World Trade Organization for its CARIBCAN trade programme, to ensure that goods from the region can enter Canada duty-free beyond 2023.

“CARIBCAN was first announced by Canada at this same meeting in Nassau in 1985. So it is only fitting we renew that pledge here today,” he told the gathering.

Additionally, to assist the region with its security, Trudeau said Canada will provide CAD$1.8 million to target illicit drug trafficking and strengthen border and maritime security in the Caribbean.

“We know that criminal elements are becoming more sophisticated, and more support is needed to stop the flow of illicit drugs, arms, and human trafficking,” he said.

Trudeau also expressed his concern about the ongoing unrest and instability in Haiti.

Haiti is facing political turmoil and corruption and unrelenting gang violence, with armed gangs committing murder, rape, kidnapping, and recruiting children to terrorize people.

Trudeau, said Canada will deploy Royal Canadian Navy vessels to conduct surveillance and gather intelligence as well as maintain a maritime presence off the Haitian coast in the coming weeks.

He also disclosed an expansion of sanctions against corrupt economic and political elites who have used their influence and resources to support criminal gangs and fuel instability in Haiti.

He added: “Today I am announcing CAD$10 million to support the International Office on Migration, to strengthen the protection and resilience of Haitian women and children along the Haiti-Dominican Republic border and in migrants’ place of origin. And, we will invest an additional CAD$12.3 million in humanitarian assistance.”

Trudeau said that together, CARICOM, Canada and international partners can help Haitians bring an end to the crisis and build a better and more hopeful future for their country.

“As neighbours, and for Canada as a partner with decades of history of support for the people of Haiti, we need to work on long-lasting solutions that will restore order and security, allow for essential aid to flow to those who urgently need it, and create the conditions for free and fair elections so that the Haitian people can live in a stable and democratic society,” he said.

“CARICOM must be an integral leader on this crisis, including through convening political dialogues and helping rally partners, around the globe, to provide much-needed assistance for Haiti,” he added.

Saying that the crisis in Haiti and climate action were among the urgent area on which CARICOM and Canada can work together, Trudeau said he looked forward to “strengthening our partnership, building on the already solid foundation of shared values, priorities, and mutual respect and friendships that binds us together”.

At the Nassau summit, Trudeau held one-on-one meetings with the Prime Ministers of The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica and Haiti.

(The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is a grouping of 15 Full Members and five Associate Members. The Full Members are Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago. The Associate Members are Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and Turks & Caicos Islands.)