President Dr Irfaan Ali, who is in Barbados for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) summit, on Tuesday held bilateral discussions with Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley on a number of issues.
Among the issues the two sides discussed were greater collaboration between the two countries. According to the Office of the President, both Heads of Government agreed that a new paradigm in relations between Guyana and Barbados is necessary.
“Both President Ali and Prime Minister Mottley alluded to their desire for a new paradigm in the relations between Guyana and Barbados that would allow the peoples of both countries to benefit from an expanded programme of cooperation,” the statement said.
“They expressed a determination to succeed with a model for the region built on enhanced trust and cutting through bureaucracy to achieve their objectives within the shortest possible time for implementation.”
Several initiatives were also discussed to advance cooperation and investment in the areas of agriculture and fisheries, as well as oil and gas, mining, forestry, tourism, the hospitality industry, transportation, housing and water resources.
“Significant attention was paid to exploring how the agriculture potential of Guyana and Barbados could be utilised to reduce food importation bills as part of the overall regional food security plans. It was agreed that a monitoring mechanism would be put in place to oversee the implementation of an action plan,” it was further explained.
Meanwhile, counterpart meetings were also held at the ministerial level and between the Private Sector representatives of both countries with a view to advancing the decisions of the Heads of Government of Guyana and Barbados.
“The Heads of Government encouraged the members of their Private Sectors to become more aggressive in taking advantage of the opportunities, that should be seen not as competitive, but providing a measure of complementarity that would be a win-win for both sides.
They stressed the urgency with which both countries need to move forward,” the statement noted.
During the UNCTAD panel discussion on Tuesday, President Ali spoke of smaller states and their willingness to take their rightful places at the big table in the international arena, while also urging First World countries to honour their old commitments for development before new commitments are made.
The moderator of the panel posed the question of whether new pathways to development would have to be explored, in light of the failures of the old and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide. He disagreed.
“I don’t know whether the crisis necessitates the changing of our development path, but the first thing we must ask is, in accessing what we’ve accomplished in the current path, what are the outcomes? To speak about new areas, a new path and new ideas in the context of what is happening would be, I think, giving a free pass to those who have not allowed the system to work,” Ali further explained.
President Ali noted that small states themselves have to be their own advocates to keep the developed world accountable. In this light, he lauded Barbados for hosting the summit, and signalled the willingness of small states to partner with the developed world on the international stage.
“We hear a lot of talk about new commitments, but President Kenyatta raised the perfect question: Don’t tell us about new commitments now; how are we going to honour the old commitments? When are we going to honour the old commitments? When are we going to be true to that commitment that was made?
“That’s why I’m so happy that Barbados has taken the leadership of bringing such an important event to the region. They’re not curtailed by size of country or population. The vision is to demonstrate to the world that we are equal partners on the table, and we’re willing to take our place at the table,” President Ali said.
President Ali; President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta; Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan; Vice-President of the Dominican Republic, Raquel Peña; Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Vera Songwe; Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, Winnie Byanyima; and President of the Inter-American Development Bank, Mauricio Claver-Carone, were all part of the speakers’ panel.
The UN Trade and Development conference brings together almost 200 countries as they seek to define global development in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the calls that have been made by world leaders, including President Ali, are for vaccine equity, debt forgiveness and action on climate change.