By Exilus Deceyon
Port of Spain, 7 dec. 05 [AlterPresse] --- Prime Minister Patrick Manning leaves for Barbados on December 6 in the afternoon to attend a special meeting of Caricom heads of government tomorrow. The meeting will focus on the European Union’s planned 36 per cent price cut of its sugar subsidy to regional producers.
That hastily-prepared meeting occurs ahead of Thursday’s second summit of Heads of State and Governments of Caricom and Cuba, which Manning is also scheduled to attend.
Both meetings will take place in Barbados’ capital, Bridgetown.
Whitehall said on December 5 that Public Administration Minister Dr Lenny Saith will act as Prime Minister in Manning’s absence.
Caricom heads meeting on December 8 was originally supposed to be a precursor to Thursday’s Cuba-Caricom meeting.
Whitehall said the leaders will be discussing “matters arising” out of the recently-concluded Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Valletta, Malta, last month.
The EU’s controversial sugar subsidy proposal was a major issue of contention during the Commonwealth meeting.
Guyana has led Caricom’s objections to the planned EU subsidy to African, Caribbean and Pacific Group countries as countries within the region, including T&T has revamped their own domestic sugar industries.
Whitehall also said the leaders are also expected to discuss issues related to the implementation of the long-proposed Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).
The CSME was originally scheduled to take effect on January 31, 2005 but to date only T&T, Jamaica and Barbados have declared themselves CSME-ready.
At the Caricom heads’ 26th regular meeting in St Lucia in July, the regional leaders agreed that all 14 existing Caricom member states will be CSME ready by December 31.
Unlike tomorrow’s meeting, Thursday’s Caricom-Cuba conference has been in the making since the first one held in 2002, when a declaration was made for the governments on both sides to meet every three years.
The meeting comes as regional parliaments have debated bills meant to strengthen trade ties between Caricom and Cuba.
A bill designed to give effect to the trade and economic co-operation agreement between Caricom and Cuba was passed in the T&T’s House of Representatives on November 25.
The Caricom website said the theme of this year’s Caricom-Cuba meeting is Strategies for Caribbean Human Development and the leaders are expected to sign cooperation agreements relating to health and culture.
Manning is scheduled to return to T&T on December 8. [ed gp apr 07/12/05 00:15]