Bi-regional relations between the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean: perspectives and opportunities

FUNGLODE, in the framework of the strategic partnership with the EU-LAC Foundation, organized an international seminar under the title: “Bi-regional relations between the European Union – Latin America and the Caribbean: perspectives and opportunities” on 10 and 11 October 2012 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

From the EU-LAC Foundation, the President Benita Ferrero-Waldner, gave the keynote speech and participated in the first panel session, while the Executive Director, Jorge Valdez, participated in the second panel session.

During her speech, Mrs Ferrero-Waldner argued that the EU-LAC Foundation’s mission is to revitalize the bi-regional relationship, which needs to be reoriented towards advanced economic cooperation between the two parts. Particularly regarding the Caribbean, the Foundation’s President underlined the potential threat from the reduction of the region’s trade figures provoked by the European financial crisis. For more information on Ferrero-Waldner’s keynote speech (in spanish), please click here.

The Executive Director participated in the second panel session, under the topic “The Caribbean region within the relationship EU-LAC. Which place? Which role?” Mr Valdez stressed that the diversity and complexity that are present in the Caribbean, together with several other challenges, all signal the need to create a special agenda for the Caribbean. Some of these challenges are: fiscal sustainability; low productivity and competitiveness; serious problems of connectivity and communication; high social, economic and environmental vulnerability; public safety issues; and the presence of drug trafficking networks. This agenda’s goal must include macroeconomic stability to raise productivity and diversification, with programmes that promote small and medium enterprises and innovation, characterized by a strong commitment to adapt to the environmental challenges.

Mr Valdez also argued that promoting integration in the Caribbean should happen both through existing institutional mechanisms, such as the CARICOM, the Organisation of East Caribbean States or the CARIFORUM, and through programmes within specific sectors, which will strengthen the link between the various components of the Caribbean and bring them closer together.

During the conclusions of the seminar, the former President of the Dominican Republic and President of FUNGLODE, Leonel Fernández, underlined the need to create closer links between the countries of the Caribbean that will constitute the base to raise the bi-regional cooperation between EU-LAC. Mr Fernández recognized that in order to do so, it is necessary to improve communication between the parts, especially the aerial and maritime infrastructure. If you wish to read more about Mr Fernández’s presentation (in spanish), please click here.

The event was organized with the support of the European Union, the Institut des Amériques, the DIGECOOM, the CDRI and of the Embassy of the Dominican Republic in France.