The communiqué issued at the end of the conference indicated that the leaders met in Special Session on Transportation in keeping with their quest to deliver adequate, fair, competitive, efficient transportation services at affordable costs. They agreed that "Member States should undertake a review of their domestic taxes and other charges related to the air transportation sector, with a view to simplifying and streamlining the relevant tax structures and eliminating taxes which have a negative effect on the demand for and provision of air transportation services."
With respect to maritime travel, the Heads of Government agreed to establish a joint private and public sector team to review the findings and recommendations of reports on a regional ferry service. The team has been requested to provide preliminary estimates for the implementation of a ferry services following discussions and negotiations with prospective ferry operators.
CARICOM SINGLE MARKET AND ECONOMY
In relation to the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, the Heads welcomed the fact that all countries have signed the Protocol on Contingent Rights. In addition, eight countries have decided to apply the measures that would allow their nationals to benefit in those countries from the provisions of that agreement on contingent rights which allows for spouses and dependents of skilled workers who move to another country to access services such as education and health on the same basis as nationals. The countries involved are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.
They welcomed the opening for signature of the Agreement on the Protocol for Public Procurement and noted that the Protocol can be provisionally applied when seven Member States have signed a declaration of intent while recognizing that for entry into force, the Protocol must be signed by all parties to the Revised Treaty.
The Heads of Government noted that that the "blacklisting of CARICOM Member States by the European Union (EU) had wrought considerable reputational damage to the Community. Despite all Member States, with the exception of one, being removed from the EU blacklist, the damage inflicted is irreparable and has consequential implications for building Member States’ economic and climate resilience given our inherent vulnerabilities."
CARICOM said it "viewed the EU’s approach to “tax good governance” as an infringement of their sovereignty, coercive and harmful to the future of a key economic sector in CARICOM without providing any empirical evidence of instances of tax avoidance."
The Heads of Government agreed that the Community’s strategy against blacklisting will be multi-dimensional and targeted to both the immediate protection of Member States’ sovereignty and their future relations with Europe.
The CARICOM leaders have "accordingly requested the EU to cease the blacklisting of CARICOM States which have already made commitments to reform their tax structures in good faith." They have proposed that "the EU should adopt a more collaborative approach which would allow Member States to conduct the required impact and sensitivity analyses to determine how to further align their tax regimes with global standards for tax transparency and governance."
The CARICOM Heads noted "other EU initiatives to identify countries with strategic deficiencies in their Anti Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) frameworks as well as to monitor high risk investor citizenship and residence schemes within the context of their visa suspension mechanism for visa-free countries."
SITUATION IN HAITI
The CARICOM Heads expressed "deep concern about the situation prevailing in Haiti during the past three weeks characterized by violent protests jeopardizing the political, economic and social stability of the country," noting that "the violent protests violated the fundamental and inalienable rights and freedoms of a large part of the population."
They called upon "all stakeholders to prioritise dialogue as a means to address peacefully and meaningfully all relevant issues and to create the conditions for lasting political stability essential to the sustainable economic and social development of Haiti."
In addition, the Heads " encourage and support the Haitian Government in its efforts and initiatives and call on all Opposition Leaders and other stakeholders to put the national interests and the wellbeing of the Haitian People at the forefront."
The Heads of Government reiterated their concern that "the undertaking by both countries and the Organisation of American States (OAS) to engage in the design and development of a mechanism of co-operation for the Sarstoon River remains outstanding and urged both countries and the OAS to reinvigorate their efforts to this end."
They expressed support for the crucial role of the OAS in the process aimed at resolving the dispute, arising from Guatemala’s claims on Belize; and further called on the international community to continue supporting the OAS Office in the Adjacency Zone.
On the 15th of April 2018, Guatemala successfully held their referendum to submit its claim on Belize to the ICJ for a final resolution. Belize has scheduled the date of 10 April 2019 for its national referendum. the Government of Belize has undertaken a nationwide public education campaign to prepare Belizeans to make an informed decision.
The CARICOM Heads re-emphasised their unwavering support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of Belize.
The Heads of Government noted that Guyana had submitted its Memorial on Jurisdiction to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on November 19, 2018, in accordance with an Order of the Court and that the Court had established April 18, 2019 for the submission of the Counter Memorial by Venezuela.
CARICOM expressed support for the judicial process underway which was intended to bring a peaceful and definitive end to the long standing controversy and which was in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and the decision of the Secretary General of the United Nations under the Geneva Agreement of 1966.
The Heads of Government reiterated their firm and unswerving support for the maintenance and preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana.
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