St. Kitts-Nevis Seeking to Establish Closer Ties to CARICOM

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – Prime Minister Dr. Terrence Drew says the Twin-island Federation is seeking to establish closer relationships with the 15-member countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

TERDREWsPrime Minister Terrence Drew addressing news conference (CMC Photo)“We are part of a Caribbean Community that I have come to realize, many of us know very little about,” Dr. Drew told a news conference.

He said he met with Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley last month following engagements in the United States.

“We have agreed to strengthen relations between our two countries and I expect to be in a position to make an announcement in that regard very shortly,” Drew told reporters, adding that efforts are also being made to strengthen the relationship in the near future with Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica and the Dutch-speaking Suriname.

He said Suriname has vast amounts of water and vast amounts of farming lands “yet we have no trade with Suriname, a CARICOM member state that has offered land and water to our farmers.

”The Cooperative Republic of Guyana is, and I quote: poised to become the world’s fourth-largest offshore oil producer, placing it ahead of Qatar, the United States, Mexico and Norway,” he said, adding that Trinidad and Tobago is manufacturing instant food and Dominica is in the advanced stages of developing a 120 megawatt geothermal electricity plant.

”There certainly exists a real possibility for us to recalibrate our policies through our legislative agenda, to facilitate deeper trade relationships within the Caribbean in our pursuit to ensure that our citizens are benefiting from the best available prices of the things we are dependent on that we import and consume.”

Prime Minister Drew said that currently Foreign Affairs, International Trad, Commerce and Economic Development and Investment Minister, Dr. Denzil Douglas “is and has been off-island on several regional and international visits to strengthen diplomatic ties”.

He said in addition other senior cabinet ministers are also overseas in support of the development policies of his administration.

Drew, who said he intends to visit Nevis for talks with Premier Mark Branmtley, said “each time we engage the world and our region, there are tangible benefits for our people.

“We have to re-establish our relationships to ensure that we have the right partnerships to establish our Sustainable Island State. We cannot do it alone, but through partnerships we can definitely achieve it.”

Drew, who is also a medical practitioner, said one of the major undertakings within the Ministry of Health is the implementation of the global initiative, Hearts.

He said the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States (CDC) and the effort Resolve to Save Lives, among other worldwide actors, are part of the worldwide Hearts effort, which is being led by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“This is an initiative of heart health. Cardiovascular disease or heart disease is the second cause of death within our Federation. So we have cancers, we have cardiovascular disease, which includes strokes, and heart disease. So we are attacking those diseases that are affecting our people so we can live happier and healthier lives,” he said outlining the achievements within the health sector.

Drew, who led the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) to victory in the general elections in August last year, said the government is making significant changes with regards to national security.

“As you know, St. Kitts and Nevis will be the leader of implementing what we call for dealing with violence from a public health perspective. We are now building out the taskforce. We will implement that and that will become, we hope and we are pushing for it, , a standard for the rest of the Caribbean. So, we will lead on that in the CARICOM as well. That is where we are positioning ourselves,” he told reporters.