Communiqué of the 74th Meeting of the OECS Authority

OECS Media Release

Friday, February 16, 2024 — The Seventy-Fourth (74th) Meeting of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Authority was convened in St. Kitts and Nevis from February 14 – 15, 2024, under the Chairmanship of the Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis.

OECS Heads of Governments met in Caucus for the greater part of the morning on Wednesday February 14, 2024, to discuss several crucial matters facing the region. 

Hon. Serge Letchimy, President of the Executive Council of the Territorial Authority of Martinique made a pronouncement regarding Martinique’s association with the OECS.  He expressed a desire to seek a deeper and more active level of collaboration between Martinique and the OECS. Hon. Letchimy pointed to the immense opportunities for building cooperation between the OECS Member States in a range of areas that included trade, education, health, agriculture, among others. He noted that the demographics of the French associate Member States was large enough to constitute a lucrative trade market for the OECS as well as a gateway to France and Europe.  

Following the statements made by Martinique and discussions amongst the Heads of Government, a Declaration was issued by the Chairman of the OECS Authority the Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew. 

“Martinique reiterates its commitment to the OECS regional integration effort to collectively address the major challenges confronting us of sustainable, long-term development, in a context of increasing globalization. Martinique shares the same history and geography as the sister countries of the OECS, with their diverse cultural processes and multiple institutional frameworks. 

The effectiveness of Martinique’s engagement within the OECS requires an evolution of its capacities for action in terms of trade, connectivity, resilience to climate change, and energy policy. This evolution is consistent with the European Union’s policy on strengthening of autonomous normative power.

Today, Martinique is negotiating with the French Republic for autonomous adaptation and legislation, within the framework of differentiation policies, which could open the way for regional diplomacy that is useful and necessary to its future, while remaining part of the French Republic and the European Union. Martinique wishes to be an effective player for its population and the OECS, through its dual membership of the OECS and the European Union. 

The OECS welcomes this clear commitment by Martinique, as expressed by President Letchimy, and fully supports the establishment of autonomous normative power, giving it the possibility of adapting and enacting legislative and regulatory frameworks in negotiated areas of competence. This move towards autonomy and integration is vital for the future of Martinique and the region.”

The plenary session commenced with an invocation by the OECS Commissioner for St. Kitts and Nevis, H.E. Larry Vaughan. In the main the meeting focused on, inter alia:

a) Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) Report: Update on regaining category one status

b) Centers of Excellence in Health

c) Regional Integration Matters 

d) The OECS Food and Agriculture Systems Transformation (FAST) Strategy 

e) The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (CARICOM – Saudi Arabia Summit)

f) The Revised Eastern Caribbean Regional Oceans Policy (ECROP)

g) OECS Commission Operational Matters

a) ECCAA Report – Update on Regaining Category one status

The Director General of the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority, Mr. Anthony Whittier, provided an update on efforts being made towards resuming category one status, including a report of the ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission. A timeline with specific milestones towards an FAA assessment for the attainment of category one status was a key highlight of the presentation. 


b) Centres of Excellence in Health

The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew provided an update on the progress towards the establishment of a Renal Transplant Facility as a regional centre of excellence in St. Kitts and Nevis. He also highlighted the need to establish other centres of excellence across the region including the establishment of a sickle cell medical facility. Prime Minister Gaston Browne also updated Heads on the initiatives in Antigua and Barbuda in the areas of cancer treatment. Heads also noted the emergence of centres of excellence in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the treatment of diabetic ulcers and for paediatric care as well as the world class centre for eye care in Dominica that has been supported by the Brenda Strafford Foundation.

c) Regional Integration Matters 

OECS Heads of Government and their representatives received updates regarding the advancement on the Free Movement of Persons Regime, the OECS Development Strategy, initiatives undertaken to support Competition Policy Enforcement, actions being undertaken to strengthen the Consumer Protection Policy including plans for the development of a Consumer Protection Portal. Plans to convene the 4th meeting of the OECS Economic Affairs Council on March 22, 2024, was brought to the attention of the Heads of Government.    

d) The OECS Food and Agriculture Systems Transformation (FAST) Strategy 

The Authority received a presentation on the 10-year strategy centred on food security and broader economic and social development. The priorities and actions adopted by Ministers of Agriculture were presented, including plans to undertake a feasibility assessment for the establishment of an OECS joint agriculture platform.  
 

e) The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (CARICOM-Saudi Arabia Summit) 

The OECS Director General provided an update on the developing relations with Saudi Arabia. The Authority agreed on a range of initiatives designed to deepen Saudi-OECS Collaboration.  

f) Revised Eastern Caribbean Regional Oceans Policy (ECROP)

The Authority adopted the revised ECROP and agreed to expedite initiatives to be executed including the delimitation, promulgation, and effective monitoring, control, and response to human activity within Member States coastal and maritime area, to secure Member States’ access and rights to utilize marine resources, and support transition to a blue economy region. 

g) The OECS Commission Operational Matters

The annual progress report on the triennium work programme and budget of the OECS Commission for 2022 – 2023 was presented for the approval of the Authority. The report outlined the work programme approach in the context of the five strategic priorities developed to provide value for Member States in coordination with Development Partners.  

Other matters discussed at the meeting included:

  • Plans for the 7th Sitting of the OECS Assembly scheduled to take place in Antigua and Barbuda.
  • A report by the OECS Director General on the review of COP 28 conclusions that was led by the CARICOM Secretary General. He informed the Authority of the commitments made by the OECS Commission to ensure stronger interagency collaboration to optimise the benefits to be derived from COP 28.
  • An update by the OECS Director General on plans to host a 3rd Meeting of the OECS Leaders of the Opposition.
  • Regional integration initiatives on energy within the context of the OECS Sustainable Energy Framework with specific focus on geothermal energy. 

ATTENDANCE

Heads of Governments and Representatives of Heads of Government

  • Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew – Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Hon. Gaston Browne – Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
  • Hon. Dickon Mitchell – Prime Minister of Grenada
  • Hon. Easton Farrell – Premier of Montserrat
  • Hon. Dr. Natalio Wheatley – Premier of the British Virgin Islands
  • Hon Dr. Ellis Webster – Premier of Anguilla
  • Hon. Serge Letchimy – President, Executive Council of the Territorial Authority of Martinique
  • Hon. Dr. Irving Francis McIntyre – Minister for Finance, Economic Development, Climate Resilience and Social Security, Representing the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica 
  • Hon. Wayne Girard – Minister of Finance, Representing the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia 
  • Hon. Camillo Gonsalves – Minister of Finance, Representing the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Other Delegates

  • H.E. Dr. Didacus Jules – Director General of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
  • Hon. Joseph Andall – Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Export Development, Grenada 
  • Mr. Anthony Whittier – Director General, Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority
  • Commissioners of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
  • Ms. Kathleen Rogers – Financial Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Anguilla 
  • Ms. Daphne Cassell – Permanent Secretary, Montserrat 
  • Ms. Xyrah Wheatley – Assistant Secretary – External Affairs, British Virgin Islands 

A hybrid press conference was held following the two-day meeting. The 75th Meeting of the OECS Authority is expected to be held on June 18th, 2024, in Saint Lucia where the Chairmanship is expected to be assumed by the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Hon. Philip J. Pierre

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