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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06PORTOFSPAIN217
2006-02-14 20:11:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Port Of Spain
Cable title:  

CARICOM INTER-SESSIONAL WRAP-UP: PETROCARIBE AND

Tags:   PREL  ECIN  ETRD  EPET  XL  TD 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0006
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSP #0217/01 0452011
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 142011Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY PORT OF SPAIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6440
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 3548
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
						C O N F I D E N T I A L PORT OF SPAIN 000217 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CAR

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/14/2016
TAGS: PREL ECIN ETRD EPET XL TD
SUBJECT: CARICOM INTER-SESSIONAL WRAP-UP: PETROCARIBE AND
HAITI ISSUES RESOLVED

REF: A. A. PORT OF SPAIN 00204

B. B. PORT OF SPAIN 00034

Classified By: DCM Eugene P. Sweeney for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)



1. (C) SUMMARY: At the final press conference of the 17th
CARICOM Inter-sessional Heads of Government meeting, members
announced that they had resolved two of the most contentious
issues, Haiti's status in CARICOM and PetroCaribe. On
PetroCaribe, T&T decided to support suspension of the common
external tariff. Apparently, this concession garnered a
"sympathetic hearing" to a CARICOM-U.S. partial-scope trade
agreement that would grant T&T petroleum-based products
preferential trade status. The heads of government also
asserted that Haiti would be represented at the regular
CARICOM meeting that will take place in July. Outgoing
Jamaican PM Patterson gave an overview of CARICOM's historic
development and urged continued forward progress. END
SUMMARY.



2. (U) The 17th CARICOM Inter-sessional Heads of Government
meeting wrapped up on February 10 with a late-evening press
conference. Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister Patrick
Manning chaired the press briefing. St. Vincent PM
Gonsalves, Jamaican PM Patterson and CARICOM Secretary
General Carrington also spoke at the briefing.

CONFERENCE OVERVIEW



3. (U) Manning detailed the outcomes of the conference,
distilling the lengthy joint communiqu into five points.

- The Bahamas signed the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. This
was the final signature required to bring the CARICOM Single
Market into force.

- CARICOM allocated USD 120 million to establish a regional
development fund. Twenty million will come from the
petroleum stabilization fund, with the remainder to be paid
by the member states according to an as-yet undeveloped
formula.

- CARICOM member states resolved their differences on
PetroCaribe. After a full, frank discussion of the pitfalls
and benefits to the system, CARICOM members "kissed and made
up" on this divisive issue.

- CARICOM offered congratulations to the Haitian people for
their recent elections. CARICOM affirmed that, once the
results are certified as free and fair, Haiti would receive
an invitation to the July CARICOM meeting.

- Finally, outgoing Jamaican PM Patterson received high
accolades for his unstinting work to further Caribbean
integration.



--------------------------


PETROCARIBE STILL A SORE SPOT?


--------------------------





4. (SBU) During the question and answer portion of the
briefing, Manning looked distinctly uncomfortable when
pressed to explain exactly how the PetroCaribe issue had been
resolved. Manning continually asserted that all sides saw
both the benefits and pitfalls to the situation, but that
they had resolved their differences. He announced that T&T

decided to support an exemption from the common external
tariff for PetroCaribe to work. Somewhat less confidently he
revealed that T&T would seek to negotiate directly with
Venezuela to process some of the crude to be used for the
PetroCaribe system. He also noted that he received "a
sympathetic hearing" to pursue a partial-scope free trade
agreement with the United States that would pertain to
CARICOM products currently produced only in Trinidad, such as
methanol, urea, ammonia and ethanol propylene (Ref B).
Manning took this opportunity to underscore the need to
follow CARICOM's existing consultative structures.



--------------------------



--------------------------


ECONOMIC PROGRESS: MOVING PEOPLE WITHIN, LOBBYING WITHOUT


--------------------------



--------------------------





5. (U) PM Gonsalves commented that the members of the
Organization of Eastern Caribbean States felt comfortable
with the pace of integration. He also noted that prior to
July's meeting, he expects expanded consultation on regional
free movement of people. Carrington spoke about the need for

CARICOM to lobby beyond its borders to ensure that its voice
is heard in larger international fora, such as the WTO. He
expressed displeasure with the EU decision to end the sugar
protocol, calling it the "abrogation of a sacred treaty" and
called on the CARICOM Heads of Government to ensure that they
reached out to Europe to make their collective position known.



--------------------------


FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS NEEDED


--------------------------





6. (U) The undisputed star of the conference was outgoing
Jamaican PM Patterson. Patterson first briefed on
developments from the economic subcommittee. He noted that
CARICOM needs to develop a juridical persona, and that action
will be taken on this issue in July. Patterson revealed that
the Heads of Government agreed that CARICOM should be
prepared to enter into direct free trade negotiations with
the United States in the case that the Free Trade Area of the
Americas does not materialize.



7. (U) Journalists managed to wring the concession out of
Patterson that he would be willing, if asked, to consult with
CARICOM leaders as they embark on their EU negotiations. He
stated that, while writing was now his highest priority, he
could not deny his former CARICOM colleagues the network of
contacts he had built up over his years in government.



--------------------------

-
A CARICOM RETROSPECTIVE: OVERALL, PRETTY GOOD


--------------------------

-



8. (U) Patterson moved into a retrospective on CARICOM's
development. Overall, he is pleased to have been a part of
CARICOM from the beginning, and is largely satisfied with its
development. However, he cautioned that members must ensure
they implement their decisions, rather than just making
statements. Patterson also expressed supreme displeasure
with the slow pace of bringing the Caribbean Court of Justice
into being, which denies CARICOM members local, ultimate
jurisdiction over their justice systems. In what seemed to
be a veiled reference to CARICOM's previously laissez faire
attitude towards Haiti, Patterson exhorted his colleagues to
make foreign policy decisions based on principle, rather than
on political expedience so that history can judge the
integrity of their decisions.



--------------------------


RETURNING HAITI TO THE FOLD


--------------------------





9. (U) Reporters pressed on CARICOM's position vis--vis
Haiti, implying that it had softened. PM Manning denied that
the position had softened, pointing out that CARICOM had
consistently required that Haiti's government be
democratically elected before Haiti was invited back into
CARICOM. All speakers asserted that Haiti would be welcomed
back to CARICOM in time for the July meeting. PM Gonsalves
advised reporters that they could look to CARICOM members'
participation in the Haitian inauguration as evidence of
reengagement.



10. (C) COMMENT: For CARICOM as a whole, the
inter-sessional meeting was a success because it resolved the
two most potentially contentious issues, PetroCaribe and
Haiti, without much acrimony. Meanwhile, T&T may have turned
a loss on PetroCaribe into a win on trade. Although not
explicitly linked, it appears that T&T agreed to facilitate
PetroCaribe by supporting the common external tariff waiver
in return for permission to pursue a CARICOM free-trade
agreement with the U.S. that would provide exclusive benefit
to T&T. Manning stuck by his guns even in this by using the
CARICOM consultative system rather than forging ahead and
negotiating it unilaterally, the way he alleges some
Caribbean states did with PetroCaribe. END COMMENT.
AUSTIN