CARICOM debates impact of COVID-19Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of state and government have the COVID-19 pandemic, other natural disasters, and the region's response high on the agenda of the online summit this Monday and Tuesday.

Saint John's.- Also on the discussion is the impact of recent natural disasters, including the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and widespread flooding in Guyana and Suriname, as well as updates on the passage of Tropical Cyclone Elsa through several member states.

The meeting will address several critical economic development issues, including the prioritization of regional food production and food security, the elimination of regional roaming charges to help improve the ICT sector, and the push towards a common Caricom tourism policy.

The two-day meeting will be chaired by incoming CARICOM president, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, outgoing president, Trinidad and Tobago Premier Keith Rowley, and the organization's secretary-general, Irwin LaRocque.

A few days ago, LaRocque said: "I think we have an opportunity before us now," on the progress being made under the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME). The CSME allows for the free movement of goods, labor, and services in most of the 15-member regional integration group, so LaRocque said it would be important to move forward in that regard.

The countries that make up the Caribbean regional organization are Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. The entity also maintains preferential ties with other countries in the basin, such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic. (RHC)