Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne is looking forward to a productive and successful meeting as he leads an Antigua and Barbuda delegation to the First Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 16th November with an Investment Forum on the 17th November.
Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne, Works and Housing Minister the Hon. Maria Browne and Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Senator the Hon. Dwayne George along with Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell of Grenada, Prime Minister Dr. Terrance Drew of Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Prime Minister Philip Pierre of Saint Lucia departed the V.C. Bird International Airport Tuesday afternoon for Riyadh where they will join other CARICOM Heads who will actively engage with His Majesty Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince and Prime Minister His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and other government officials on issues of mutual importance at the bilateral, inter-regional and global levels.
Some of the issues down for discussion area deepening CARICOM-Saudi Arabia relations designed to support the sustainability of the Community’s development objectives through the coordinated use of financial, technical and human resources, to promote economic and social development among Member States; World Expo 2030, the strengthening of relations between CARICOM and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC); Agriculture and Food Security, Transportation, Renewable Energy and Climate Change and Finance. Tourism, Investment, Education and Health will also form part of the discussions.
The Opening Ceremony to be held on Thursday will hear addresses from His Majesty Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and King of Saudi Arabia; His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia;The Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica and Chair of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM; and Dr. Carla Barnett, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community.
Prime Minister Browne before departing the V. C. Bird International Airport, said that while investment is of paramount importance for CARICOM and Antigua and Barbuda in fostering economic growth, job creation and building a robust and resilient economy, he plans to establish levels of cooperation with Saudi Arabia in a wide range of areas.
He said that for Antigua and Barbuda, public health infrastructure development, improving health delivery systems and improving quality basic education, lifelong learning and technical and vocational education and training are of equal importance, and therefore he will also aim at collaborating with Saudi Arabia in these areas.
He noted that his team will put forward a request for a scholarship programme for Antigua and Barbuda students to pursue degree studies in Saudi Arabia which will facilitate knowledge exchange and cultural understanding. “We also believe that we can develop academic collaboration and research initiatives through teacher exchanges and educational infrastructure development,” he pointed out.
“In the area of health, we believe we can collaborate on healthcare infrastructure development including the construction and upgrading of clinics, laboratories and medical treatment facilities along with advancing medical training opportunities, education and advancing electronic health records management,” noted Prime Minister Browne.
Prime Minister Browne is also expected to pursue collaboration in the areas of technologies for screening, early detection and treatment of NCDs including diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Other CARICOM countries are expected to pursue similar areas of cooperation.
The Antigua and Barbuda delegation to the two-day event also includes Ambassadors Colin Murdoch, Gilbert Boustany, Sami Al Mufleh, Jeffrey Hadeed and Boris Latour.
The trip to Saudi Arabia is fully sponsored by the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Prime Minister Browne and the other members of the Antigua and Barbuda return to the country on Saturday. The Hon. Attorney General, Sir Steadroy Cutie Benjamin is the Acting Prime Minister.