The Caribbean has a lot to share with Russia and Eurasia, the Prime Minister of Dominica has said on a visit to St Petersburg.
Roosevelt Skerrit was speaking at International Economic Forum (SPIEF) to an audience of delegates from across the globe.
“The Caribbean community is very keen on advancing its relations with the Russian Federation and also Eurasia. There’s a lot that the Caribbean community can share in the integration process,” the prime minister said.
Alluding to the United States’ decision to leave the Paris Agreement, an agreement within the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change, Skerrit spoke about the need for a fresh approach from countries who are heavily reliant upon the US for development.
“No longer can we rely on certain other regions to assure us of a better way of life for our citizens… I believe that with the advancement of the Eurasia, Russia, Caribbean and Latin American partnership, we can overcome those challenges.
“We have to define a new path for ourselves.”
The prime minister painted a picture of the current situation that inhibits the growth of the partnership between the Caribbean and Russia, and offered his recommendations to address the limitations.
“For us to see the real benefits of this type of integration and cooperation, we must advance visa-free access.
“It should not have to take a Russian investor six months to get a visa to come to our countries, and vice versa. We must have the ease of movement in order for us to advance our economic cooperation.”
Better way of life for SPIEF countries
He added that the decision on which island would be the hub for flights coming from Russia should be swiftly made, in order to enhance the visa-free regime and the business opportunities it will engender.
In detailing the Eastern Caribbean’s experience and expertise with matters of integration and what it can bring to the table, Skerrit spoke highly of the strength of the Eastern Caribbean dollar and the fact that it was actually studied by the European Union while it was in the process of implementing its own currency, the Euro.
When asked by the moderator of the roundtable discussion, Sergey Brilev, whether he felt the SPIEF was on the right track, the prime minister affirmed that the St Petersburg International Economic Forum was indeed headed in the right direction, stating that the matters discussed there are all geared towards creating a better way of life for citizens from the participant countries.
“I am here to extend a hand of cooperation and solidarity with the relationship and I am speaking very firmly on behalf of the entire Caribbean community – not just my country.
“The movement that the SPIEF started will certainly gain traction and we are very pleased with the momentum it has achieved. It deals with the practical issues confronting our world,” Skerrit said in his closing remarks.