Senator the Honourable Dr. Amery Browne, Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs and other Ministers of Government met with a Delegation of the Working Party on Latin America and the Caribbean of the Council of the European Union (COLAC) at the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs on Friday 18 November, 2022. Participating Ministers of Government were Senator the Honourable Reginald T. A. Armour, S.C. Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs and host of the meeting; the Honourable Colm P. Imbert, Minister of Finance; Senator the Honourable Paula Gopee-Scoon, Minister of Trade and Industry; the Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis, Acting Minister of Planning and Development; and Senator the Honourable Nigel de Freitas, Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries.

The visiting Delegation was led by Mr. Tomas Reyes Ortega, Chair of the Working Party on Latin America and the Caribbean of the Council of the European Union and included representatives of Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Slovenia Spain. The Delegation of COLAC was accompanied by His Excellency Peter Cavendish, Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to Trinidad and Tobago.

COLAC is the advisory bodies established to manage European Union relations with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Delegates, drawn from each of the twenty-seven (27) Member State Governments of the European Union are assigned to COLAC.

Mr. Reyes Ortega and the delegation, visited Trinidad and Tobago as part of an historic multi-country fact-finding tour to the English-speaking Caribbean region by Team Europe. The Team Europe approach, adopted by the EU and its Member States in 2020 represents a commitment to delivering greater impact through joint, coordinated and effective European development cooperation. The visit to Trinidad and Tobago signals a desire for increasing engagement with this country and the wider English speaking Caribbean region.

The Ministers and the Delegation discussed a range of topics including the war between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. During the discussion on the matter, Mr. Ortega and other members of the delegation highlighted Trinidad and Tobago’s principled stance on the conflict, which included co-sponsorship of Resolutions on the matter at the United Nations; and indicated that the action raised Trinidad and Tobago’s profile within the European Union. Mr. Ortega also informed that the meeting confirmed his belief in the importance of people-to-people contact, and the need for the Working Party to increase the frequency of its contact with countries like Trinidad and Tobago, under the advisory group’s purview.

The meeting was a platform for frank exchanges on issues of mutual interest and the identification of workable solutions to strengthen the relationship between Trinidad and Tobago and the European Union. Ministers had an opportunity to discuss the progress being made on Trinidad and Tobago’s fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing; removal from the EU listing of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes and the reversal of the country’s designation as a High-Risk Third Countries with Strategic Deficiencies in its Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorist Financing Systems, among others. Participants took the opportunity to provide clarification and information on positions held and to gain a better understanding of the way forward on the issues to achieve the best outcomes for all stakeholders.

Trinidad and Tobago and the European Union have enjoyed diplomatic relations since 1975 and Minister Browne communicated his optimism that the interaction will allow the respective parties “to establish new areas of communication and continue to build on the forty plus years of warm, cordial diplomatic relations.

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