The report deals with the seven projects and programmes developed at the last Summit in Haiti.
The programmes are -: 1) Sustainable Tourism; 2) Trade Development and External Economic Relations; 3) Transport; 4) Disaster Risk Reduction; 5) Education, Culture, Science and Technology; 6) Caribbean Sea Commission and 7) Special Fund.
In the case of the tourism sector, there was great jubilation among Member States when the Greater Caribbean Region was established as the first Sustainable Tourism Zone (STZC) in the world last November.
The project has since moved forward with the setting up of an enabling environment for the promotion and further development of the STZC, in collaboration with the Regional Council of Martinique to develop the Regional Co-operation Mechanism (RCM) as a component of the STZC.
This project, as the third phase in the establishment of the STZC, would include a Study in best practice in Sustainable Tourism, development of a website and promotional materials and expansion of the Sustainability Indicators to have a least one destination in each ACS Member and Associate Member State STZC designated. Establishment of support mechanisms and formalisation of regional and international linkages would also be prioritised to enhance the profile, visibility and value of the STZC.
Trinidad and Tobago featured in a snag last year when the Implementation of the Tourist Safety and Security Seminar, scheduled to take place last July in Port-of-Spain in collaboration with the Tourism Development Company (TDC) was forced to be postponed because of internal changes at the managerial level of the TDC. This seminar is now expected to take place in Mexico in the second half of 2014.
Focus during that meeting would be a capacity building workshop related to Tourism Safety and Security and the selected topic would consider the multi-dimensional nature of safety and security and would be based on one of the four aspects identified as regional priorities – physical safety; disaster risk preparedness, food safety and security and health/pandemic safety and security.
In another issue, Cruise Tourism and Entrepreneurial Strengthening in the Greater Caribbean, with the emphasis on opportunities for women would attract discussion. Approval has been given for (US)$30,000 at a meeting of the Special Committee on Budget Administration in Port-of-Spain in July last year to host a conference related to this project. It is likely that it would be held in Cartagena, Colombia in the last quarter of 2014.
As far as Trade Development and External Economic Relations are concerned, there is a project, proposed by Mexico – “Integration Through Trade Facilitation/International Transit of Goods”, which has the following main objectives:
• To hold regional meetings with technical groups in trade facilitation, Customs procedures and regulations in order to;
• Identify similarities and asymmetries that allow proposing alternatives that promote the movement of goods in the region;
• Finance the participation of experts from the Caribbean; and
• Promote interconnection techniques using existing capabilities in the region.
The convergence idea, now being heavily pushed by Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran to deepen trade and connectivity within the ACS, will also be up for discussion. Last year at the Ministerial Council of the ACS in Panama City, Minister Dookeran propounded the notion of a “Convergence re-orientation to integration”.
He said then, “I believe that the ACS is an ideal vehicle to advance the process towards the convergence which is essential to cement a position of sustainability for all the economies in the region, large and small, in the global setting.”
Transport – maritime and air - in the region would be given great attention, because of its importance in increasing connectivity between Member States of the association.
Maritime and Transport Business Solutions is the organisation which would do a study. Work has already begun and the completion date has been given as the end of June 2014. The project execution would be guided by the team from COCATRAM, AMP and Cuba, along with the Directorate for Transport of the ACS.
The Air Transport Agreement among Member States and Associate Members went into force in September 19 2008. The agreement has been ratified by the Dutch Antilles, Aruba, Cuba, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Venezuela and Caricom States, Suriname, Barbados, Belize, Haiti, and Jamaica. Trinidad and Tobago is yet to ratify the agreement. On the downside of air transport, no progress has been made in the pursuit of commercial co-operation partnerships and alliances among the airlines of ACS countries because the ad hoc committee set up to guide this has not met.
However, the Directorate plans to redouble its efforts to have action on this project resume.