UNITED NATIONS, CMC ? Antigua and Barbuda Friday praised Venezuela?s initiative for an alternative trade and economic relationship among countries of the western hemisphere while urging the United States to end its decades? old embargo against Cuba.
Addressing the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer also made reference to the ongoing global economic crisis, the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) reached between the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) countries and the European Union.
He said that the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) that Caracas has been pushing as an alternative to the Washington backed Free Trade Area for the Americas (FTAA) represents ?an innovative and viable model of integration and development?.
Antigua and Barbuda is among a handful of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries that have signed on to ALBA.
Spencer said that in responding to the various crises facing the world, ?all parties must admit that the old methodologies as reflected in the Washington Consensus and similar models are obsolete.
?As we actively pursue the creation of new structures and strategies, Antigua and Barbuda encourages the community of nations to explore alternative models such as that represented by the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA).
?With its foundation principles of complementarity as an alternative to competition; solidarity as opposed to domination; cooperation as a replacement for exploitation; and respect for sovereignty rather than corporate rule, ALBA represents an innovative and viable model of integration and development.?
Spencer said his administration firmly believes in promoting partnerships in support of sustainable development based on principles of mutual respect and understanding, equality and a genuine desire to effect social and economic development.
?I have already alluded to my country’s membership in ALBA and commended that innovative model of integration and development,? he said, adding that ?Antigua and Barbuda also looks forward to fully playing its role in ensuring that the various trade arrangements entered into with the European Union, the
United States of America and Canada work in the interest of all of our nations.
?My government however, will continue to place a strong emphasis on the developmental components, which should be central to ensuring that these arrangements produce positive results for our people,? he said, while at the same time deepening the regional integration process.
?As a part of the smaller OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean) grouping, Antigua and Barbuda fully supports an OECS Economic Union in an effort to build on the shared tradition of our sub-regional integration arrangements and to expand the areas of shared sovereignty in order to survive and ultimately thrive,? Spencer said.
He said that his government along with other CARICOM countries welcome the paradigm shift which now characterizes engagement with agencies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Spencer said the decision to limit conditionalities to those critical to achieving the objectives of the country programme being supported and allow the objectives to be set by the borrowing country, were welcome responses ?to earlier calls to recognize the absolute necessity of using factors other than per capita gross domestic product as a criteria to access concessionary financing.
?We maintain that herein lies the key to mitigating a downward spiral into economic and social chaos,? he said noting that decision making on issues of international financial governance remains a privilege of the few ?when such decisions have great impact on the lives, livelihood and basic well-being of millions of people the world over.
?My government calls on the developed countries, the members of the OECD, (Organisation for Economic and Cooperation Development) to ensure that their response strategies involve better international
cooperation on tax issues through inclusive and cooperative frameworks that ensure the involvement and equal treatment of small jurisdictions, as stipulated in the outcome document of the UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis.?
During his address, The Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister spoke of the ?long standing relationship? Cuba and appealed to Washington to end the trade and economic embargo placed on the country since former president Fidel Castro came to power many years ago.
?It is my government’s firm belief that the discriminatory and punitive policies and practices which serve to prevent Cuba from exercising its right to freely participate in the affairs of the hemisphere must be discontinued and with immediate effect.
?While the winds of change continue to move across the United States, I call on the Obama administration to effect change in its dealings with our sister nation of the Republic of Cuba. I call on the United States to end unequivocally the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed on our brothers and sisters in Cuba.?
Spencer said that as a world leader and defender of justice, the United States must embrace change fully in the interest of the entire population of the Caribbean Communist nation.
Spencer told the UNGA that the parallels between the global economic crisis and the global climate change crisis were ?both stark and dire for Small Island Developing States.
?Again we are faced with the adverse impacts of a crisis that is not of our making but which is threatening ? quite literally in the case of some of our sister nations in the Pacific – to wipe us away from the face of the earth.?
He said that it a recognised fact that Small Island States (SIDS) contribute the least to the causes of climate change, yet were made to suffer the most from its effects.
?The responsibility for mitigating climate change is a common responsibility for all nations, be they developed or developing. However, developed countries should shoulder their moral, ethical and historical responsibilities for emitting the levels of anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere.
?It is those actions which have now put the planet in jeopardy and compromised the well-being of present and future generations.?
Prime Minister Spencer said his country was joining the Peoples Republic of China in its call for