They are -:
A) an exchange of experiences for the integration of territorial information systems and platforms that would allow the ACS to advance toward the implementation of a Mesoamerican Territorial Information System (SMIT) in the Greater Caribbean, and which would contribute to the efforts for comprehensive risk management.
B) participation in the implementation of a Geospatial Information and Infrastructure System that would respond to the needs of the region and which would allow us to maximise the use of geospatial information for the benefit of the people. In this way the Greater Caribbean region would join in the efforts of the Initiative of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Geospatial Information Management.
C) Working with the major ports in the region according to their classification (hubs, transhipment and small ports), for the purpose of ensuring the development of short distance maritime transport, addressing in particular logistical and infrastructure issues in small ports.
D) Co-operation so that Customs offices of the region could adopt mechanisms to promote Trade Facilitation, which would allow for the improved efficiency of the procedures carried out by the authorities controlling the international transit of goods, linking the Customs Information Systems of Mesoamerica and the Caribbean islands.
In the case of the International Transit of Goods project, Trinidad and Tobago is one of nine countries whose experiences would be discussed in an attempt to learn more about the different types of ports/services existing in the Region. Other Caricom countries are Jamaica, Bahamas, Barbados and St Lucia. The Latin American countries are Colombia, Panama, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
Workshops to begin implementation of the project were held last week in Panama City. In attendance were representatives of the major hub, transhipment and small ports in the region, Customs authorities of ACS Member States and specialists of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), who would deal specifically with cargo logistics and trade/Customs facilitation.
On the issue of Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) Trinidad and Tobago is again listed as a beneficiary of this project, together with ten other Caricom States – Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and Suriname.
Overall objective of this project is to promote the development of Spatial Data Infrastructure to strengthen the generation, use and sharing of geospatial information, while the specific goal is to support the integration and participation of the island states, Suriname and Haiti.
The project therefore seeks to enhance and co-ordinate Global Geospatial Information Management activities by involving Member States at the highest level as key participants, while setting directions on the use of geospatial information within national and global policy frameworks and to develop effective strategies to build geospatial capacity in the developing countries.
As for the SMIT project, the objective of this programme is to strengthen the capacities of the institutions involved in risk management and civil protection through the establishment of a uniform platform to facilitate the exchange of information on threats, vulnerabilities and risks. Expected to benefit from this two-year project are all the English-speaking ACS countries and Suriname.
The Merida Summit on April 30, 2014, coincides with the celebration of the Association’s 20th anniversary, and is expected to underscore the importance of the Greater Caribbean, a region that accounts for almost half of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean and which represents 55 per cent of its total trade and recognise the validity of the Association as a special space for dialogue and co-operation in order to make strides in integrating Latin America with the Caribbean.
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran said,”The ACS seeks to strengthen regional co-operation to achieve sustained cultural, economic, social, scientific and technological advancement; develop the potential of the Caribbean Sea; promote an enhanced economic space for trade and investment and establish the necessary institutional structures and cooperative arrangements responsive to the various cultural identities and development needs within the region.”
Trinidad and Tobago has had the privilege of hosting the Secretariat of the ACS for the duration of its 20-year existence. Dookeran said, “We are indeed gratified with the commendable compendium of tangible achievements of the organisation. We have always been confident in the ability of the ACS to perform the role envisaged by its founding fathers and to surpass their expectations as a vehicle for uniting the citizens of the Greater Caribbean region and as an instrument to sustainable well-being.”