Barbados wants deepening of relationship between Caricom, Japan

Friday, October 17, 2014

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Barbados says it is looking forward to the deepening of the existing relationship between the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and Japan.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has held talks with the visiting Japanese ambassador and the Special Envoy for Caricom-Japan Friendship Year, Ken Shimanouchi, and according to a statement issued here, stressed that Caricom and Japan could build on that foundation and work very closely on issues of mutual benefit.

The meeting here followed last July's Caricom-Japan Summit held in Trinidad and Tobago and the statement said the two officials discussed a wide range of topics including Japan's candidature to the United Nations Security Council, and the vulnerabilities of small island developing states (SIDS).

The statement said that the discussions also centred on three areas, namely, the vulnerabilities of Caricom countries and necessary cooperation for their sustainable growth; strengthening exchanges and bonds of friendship; and deepening cooperation in the international arena.

It quoted Ambassador Shimanouchi as saying that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recognised the importance of Caricom in Japan's foreign relations policy.

In a separate meeting with Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Maxine McClean, the Japanese diplomat noted that strong bilateral ties and areas of close cooperation had always existed between the two countries.

He attributed this to shared values, such as the democratic rule of law and respect for human rights.

"This is very important to us and Barbados is very forward-looking. One of the things that have been important to us is people-to-people exchanges. Barbados has been sending young people to teach English in Japan and they have been playing a great role in bringing us closer," said Shimanouchi.

He said his country could no longer support the view that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) alone should determine a country's eligibility for Official Development Assistance (ODA) status, and "in view of the vulnerabilities of small island developing states like Caricom, Japan has interest in seeing more consideration given to vulnerabilities on the Human Development Index .

McClean said she was also "happy that Japan is also factoring that in to get a more realistic picture of our needs".

"We are pretty vulnerable to particular shocks and we see it much more where our economies are in recession. We appreciate that and are certainly willing to work with you," she emphasised.

She said regarding Japan's candidature this would come as a result of a Caricom-wide decision.

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