cialis generic times;”>Rt. Hon Perry G Christie
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Freeport, Grand Bahama
27 April 2016
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Excellences Ladies and Gentlemen
Foreign Secretary, Ministers and Heads of Delegations
This is a special honour for me to add my words of welcome to The Bahamas, to Grand Bahama and to this biennial forum between the United Kingdom and the Caribbean.
We have a shared history, all of us. However in the decades since the Second World War, the relationship amongst and between us has altered dramatically.
When the Second World War ended, the United Kingdom had the legal responsibilities for all of the nations in this room. By the time of 1973, all of the nations here had obtained the responsibilities for their own governance and way in the world.
In the years since the Second World War the United Kingdom has changed in the world, from a major power to an important world power, one which operates its world affairs in the multinational context.
For us independence meant that we would be able to cast our own way in the world. The West Indies Federation had collapsed and the individual path was chosen. The evolution was the same for both sides however. All of us, the newly independent nation and the old administrative power, all recognised that in order for us to make our way in the world, interdependence was very much the way, while keeping true to our values of democratic pluralism, respect for the rule of law and individual freedom.
Caricom and the Cariforum are very much the centre piece of the foreign policy of The Bahamas. I cannot imagine a single decision made in this country in which my Government does not factor in and actively consult the nations of this region both in the Caricom context and our neighbours in the wider hemisphere and beyond. It is simply the right and prudent thing to do,
I say that at the start because we have the same discordant voices in our own country that believe that the small Bahamas can act alone. The truth is to the contrary. The truth stares us in the face. I do not see it as damaging our sovereignty but it is rather an enhancement of our ability to make our way in the world.
Mr. Foreign Secretary, Mr. Chair
I say all of that as we watch with interest, the developments in the United Kingdom which will be put to the British people shortly in a referendum on whether to remain within the context of the wider European Union. It is not for us to say what should be done but it is possible for us to share our experience as we have had to evolve our own relationship with you the United Kingdom and with our Cariforum partners.
One example is the ease of doing business has improved between ourselves and the European Union which includes our traditional partner the United Kingdom. We have therefore a continuing interest in a continuing relationship with a strong EU with a strong United Kingdom within it. We say that just as you have encouraged us to continue our engagement and relationship within a strong Commonwealth. We continue therefore to look forward to working with you in both fora.
What occupies us as we meet today is how we can help each other.
Climate change is very much on the agenda. Eighty per cent of our country is below 3 metres or five feet. For us the increased storms, the high water tides are threats to our very existence. We are therefore committed to the processes agreed Paris in December last year and to which we formally signed just last week in New York. We plan to ratify the agreement before the General Assembly of the United Nations meets in September of this year in New York.
Britain as one of the world’s richest countries can help by its commitment to the funding which is necessary for climate change adaptation and mitigation. It can also help to continue to make the case within the G20 for small island developing states and low lying coastal states.
It is for me to thank you for the British effort as first responders when the people of Crookes Island in the south of our country suffered from the distress of Hurricane Joaquin in September of last year. The Royal Navy did a magnificent work.
Secondly, I want to raise the issue of our financial services sector which serves the Cariforum region so well. I have no doubt that during your discussions, two issues will arise: that of the varying points of view on the financial services sector and the question of tax competition. We think that tax competition is misnamed tax avoidance or tax evasion. The second issue is that of the impacts of “de-risking”.
We believe that we have a well regulated financial services sector with a role to play in the world based on tax competition, on a respect for privacy which is important for both personal security and good investment practices. We also believe that in the end the financial services sector in our countries serve two purposes: it develops the growth of capital which eventually goes back to the developed world and it also has produced the growth of a middle class in our countries. It is to the greater moral good then that the sector should continue to exist and flourish.
Then there is the issue of de-risking. The strictures of banking have become so severe that banks in developed countries are now saying that they can do longer do business with our local banks in the region because the risk of doing business and the policing of the “know our customer” requirement exacts too high a cost on them. The result of the banks in the major markets taking what they claim is a business decisions will be that our local banking system may be cut off from the rest of the world. That will be an immoral result. This requires the intervention of the governments of the developed world to act to correct this problem. It is bad for business. The result will be immoral.
Thirdly, I wish to raise for consideration, the question of how we deepen the economic relations between us, from aspects like the movement of people and how our business people and citizens can access business and cultural opportunities in EU markets.
I hope you have a thorough and exhaustive discussion on energy.
I am sure that in the discussions these will all be fleshed out in a frank but cordial way.
This is an important relationship to us, not the least because of the historical ties. Let us remember however that history is not to bind us as to further action but to serve as guide to the future.
The theme for this year’s Forum, ‘Building a Stronger Partnership for Sustainable Growth and Development’ is significant in that it comes on the heel of the landmark adoption in September last of a new development agenda – Agenda 2030 – which is poised to transform our planet and create a brighter and better future for all of mankind in the context of the three dimensions of sustainable development – the economic, social and environmental.
Developing stronger and better relations call for a deeper re-engagement and commitment. Instead of a “business and usual” approach, our historic ties should lead to developing even stronger collaboration and partnership in all sectors – our economies and industries – tourism, financial services, health and education, social development, national security and to our very existence as a people. We must find innovative ways to exchange new ideas and seek new opportunities for cooperation in these areas, and in other critical areas such crime prevention and immigration, as well as in science and technology, agriculture, and manufacturing.
We realize that the key to sustainable growth and development lies with the intellectual potential of the youth and future generations. Therefore, it is our responsibility to seek ways to build a stronger partnership with those agencies responsible for higher learning to enable us to provide better opportunities for our young people through decent work, scholarships, student exchange programmes, and technical support for the advancement of tertiary level education in the Caribbean.
I look forward to hearing of the outcome of your discussions. I wish you a fruitful and productive time.
I commend to you our best wishes to your Prime Minister and may I also take this opportunity to congratulate in your presence her Majesty The Queen on her 90th birthday. She is an excellent example of devotion to duty.
My best wishes to you all
God bless the United Kingdom, The Commonwealth of the Bahamas and our wider Caribbean region.