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UK’s relationship with Caribbean is “backward-looking”, says Foreign Minister William Hague

UK Foreign Minister William Hague

The United Kingdom’s (UK) relationship with the Caribbean in recent years has been “backward-looking and less equal than it should be for the 21st century”, says UK Foreign Minister William Hague.

Hague, the minister who is ultimately responsible for the Caribbean countries including Turks and Caicos Islands, made this comment on Monday, ahead of the 7th annual UK-Caribbean Ministerial Forum which will be held in the eastern Caribbean island of Grenada from Friday January 20th until Sunday January 22nd.

The forum brings together foreign ministers within the Caribbean and their counterparts from the United Kingdom, to engage in talk on common concerns such as climate change, security and drug trafficking. It will be held under the theme “Sustainable growth towards prosperity”.

Up to time of writing, The SUN could not confirm if any officials from the Turks and Caicos Islands will be attending. Parts of TCI’s constitution were suspended in August 2009 following a Commission of Inquiry. In September 2010, Hague’s Under-Secretary Henry Bellingham announced the postponement of the elections which were scheduled for July 2011. Since then there have been strident calls from residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands for elections that will return the country to self-rule.

Hague visited the Turks and Caicos Islands a few years ago in a private capacity in a trip that was paid for the Conservative Party’s billionaire deputy chairman Lord Michael Ashcroft, who has business interests here.

This weekend’s visit will be his first to the Caribbean as British Foreign Secretary and he will be leading one of the strongest ever delegations of UK Ministers and senior officials to attend the UK-Caribbean Ministerial Forum.

“This (visit) is both a sign of the strength the UK attaches to our enduring friendship with the Caribbean, and of our desire to use the Forum to mark a step change in our relationship,” Hague said. “We believe this will herald a transition to a more modern, dynamic and forward looking affiliation. This certainly does not mean that I want to throw away all of the strong bonds that tie the UK and the region together. These are deep and enduring and are reflected in all walks of life, from music to food, sport to prominent international figures. We in the UK value these ties highly.”

He stressed: “But at the same time, I believe that our relationship in recent years has been too backward-looking and less equal than it should be for the twenty-first century. There is no need for this, as there are many areas where our interests, values and views coincide, where our people, companies and NGOs interact and where we work together in partnership to tackle the scourge of drugs and crime. We know what the relationship used to be, we have a feel for what it is now, but this Forum is all about determining what that relationship will be for the future.”

Caribbean countries have already signaled their intention to raise the issue of the controversial Air Passenger Duty (APD) which has strained Caribbean’s relations with the United Kingdom.

The UK has increased the rates to all Caribbean countries which regional governments say will severely affect their tourism industries. The tax on economy long-haul flights of more than 6,000 miles will rise from £85 (US$132) to £92 (US$143) per person.

St Kitts-Nevis Tourism Minister and Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) Ricky Skerritt has described the British position as “a slap in the face of the Caribbean,” noting that “it contradicts the message sent by the UK Chancellor in March 2011 when he cited the discrepancy between US and Caribbean APD rates as one of the reasons for holding a consultation on reform of UK APD”.

Hague said a modern UK-Caribbean relationship should be a modern partnership, and a relationship of equals that sets the right tone for the twenty-first century. This, he added, should take the best from our shared history and culture and focus on working together to shape the global agenda to our mutual benefit.

“We need a dynamic partnership that delivers real benefits for our citizens. This means continuing and strengthening our efforts to make our streets safer by tackling the problems of drug and violent crime that blight all of our communities. It also means sharing ideas about how we can make our economies resilient to global shocks and create jobs for our young people,” Hague added.

He said the UK’s relationship with the Caribbean should be a broad-based partnership that involves business, civil society and ordinary people.

“The private sector is the engine of growth for our economies, so it is right that they frame the questions that we politicians will discuss. The UK is a major investor in the Caribbean,” Hague said, adding that BG has recently made a large investment in Trinidad & Tobago, and Pinewood Studios are building a state of the art film studio in the Dominican Republic with local partners Grupo Vinci.

He said there are more business opportunities available, that is why he is being accompanied by Nick Baird, Chief Executive of UK Trade & Investment, and will lead a discussion with a range of UK and Caribbean businesses at the Forum.

Hague said this year also provides an unprecedented opportunity for peoples of the UK and Caribbean to come together – in marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago celebrating fifty years of independence, and in cheering on our athletes at the London 2012 Olympics.

“I look forward to discussing these issues, as well as our full range of national and international interests at the Forum this weekend. This is an invaluable opportunity for the UK to work with its partners in the Caribbean for a strong, equal and prosperous partnership based on shared ideals and mutual understanding,” he said.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

UK Foreign Minister William Hague

The United Kingdom’s (UK) relationship with the Caribbean in recent years has been “backward-looking and less equal than it should be for the 21st century”, says UK Foreign Minister William Hague.

Hague, the minister who is ultimately responsible for the Caribbean countries including Turks and Caicos Islands, made this comment on Monday, ahead of the 7th annual UK-Caribbean Ministerial Forum which will be held in the eastern Caribbean island of Grenada from Friday January 20th until Sunday January 22nd.

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The forum brings together foreign ministers within the Caribbean and their counterparts from the United Kingdom, to engage in talk on common concerns such as climate change, security and drug trafficking. It will be held under the theme “Sustainable growth towards prosperity”.

Up to time of writing, The SUN could not confirm if any officials from the Turks and Caicos Islands will be attending. Parts of TCI’s constitution were suspended in August 2009 following a Commission of Inquiry. In September 2010, Hague’s Under-Secretary Henry Bellingham announced the postponement of the elections which were scheduled for July 2011. Since then there have been strident calls from residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands for elections that will return the country to self-rule.

Hague visited the Turks and Caicos Islands a few years ago in a private capacity in a trip that was paid for the Conservative Party’s billionaire deputy chairman Lord Michael Ashcroft, who has business interests here.

This weekend’s visit will be his first to the Caribbean as British Foreign Secretary and he will be leading one of the strongest ever delegations of UK Ministers and senior officials to attend the UK-Caribbean Ministerial Forum.

“This (visit) is both a sign of the strength the UK attaches to our enduring friendship with the Caribbean, and of our desire to use the Forum to mark a step change in our relationship,” Hague said. “We believe this will herald a transition to a more modern, dynamic and forward looking affiliation. This certainly does not mean that I want to throw away all of the strong bonds that tie the UK and the region together. These are deep and enduring and are reflected in all walks of life, from music to food, sport to prominent international figures. We in the UK value these ties highly.”

He stressed: “But at the same time, I believe that our relationship in recent years has been too backward-looking and less equal than it should be for the twenty-first century. There is no need for this, as there are many areas where our interests, values and views coincide, where our people, companies and NGOs interact and where we work together in partnership to tackle the scourge of drugs and crime. We know what the relationship used to be, we have a feel for what it is now, but this Forum is all about determining what that relationship will be for the future.”

Caribbean countries have already signaled their intention to raise the issue of the controversial Air Passenger Duty (APD) which has strained Caribbean’s relations with the United Kingdom.

The UK has increased the rates to all Caribbean countries which regional governments say will severely affect their tourism industries. The tax on economy long-haul flights of more than 6,000 miles will rise from £85 (US$132) to £92 (US$143) per person.

St Kitts-Nevis Tourism Minister and Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) Ricky Skerritt has described the British position as “a slap in the face of the Caribbean,” noting that “it contradicts the message sent by the UK Chancellor in March 2011 when he cited the discrepancy between US and Caribbean APD rates as one of the reasons for holding a consultation on reform of UK APD”.

Hague said a modern UK-Caribbean relationship should be a modern partnership, and a relationship of equals that sets the right tone for the twenty-first century. This, he added, should take the best from our shared history and culture and focus on working together to shape the global agenda to our mutual benefit.

“We need a dynamic partnership that delivers real benefits for our citizens. This means continuing and strengthening our efforts to make our streets safer by tackling the problems of drug and violent crime that blight all of our communities. It also means sharing ideas about how we can make our economies resilient to global shocks and create jobs for our young people,” Hague added.

He said the UK’s relationship with the Caribbean should be a broad-based partnership that involves business, civil society and ordinary people.

“The private sector is the engine of growth for our economies, so it is right that they frame the questions that we politicians will discuss. The UK is a major investor in the Caribbean,” Hague said, adding that BG has recently made a large investment in Trinidad & Tobago, and Pinewood Studios are building a state of the art film studio in the Dominican Republic with local partners Grupo Vinci.

He said there are more business opportunities available, that is why he is being accompanied by Nick Baird, Chief Executive of UK Trade & Investment, and will lead a discussion with a range of UK and Caribbean businesses at the Forum.

Hague said this year also provides an unprecedented opportunity for peoples of the UK and Caribbean to come together – in marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago celebrating fifty years of independence, and in cheering on our athletes at the London 2012 Olympics.

“I look forward to discussing these issues, as well as our full range of national and international interests at the Forum this weekend. This is an invaluable opportunity for the UK to work with its partners in the Caribbean for a strong, equal and prosperous partnership based on shared ideals and mutual understanding,” he said.