Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders are meeting to find solutions to bring greater unity and economic resilience to the region, as the 35th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM gets under way at the Sandals Grande Antigua Resort and Spa in St. Johns.

The summit was officially opened on Tuesday, with speakers collectively noting that as small developing states, the region needed now, more than ever, greater integration to find collective solutions to solving its problems, especially in the face of the current global economic environment.

As Chairman of the Prime Ministerial Committee on Reparations, Mr. Stuart is expected to update his counterparts about the recommendations of the Committee.

The issue of reparations for Native Genocide and Slavery was tabled by Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, and endorsed by other leaders at last year???s Summit. Member States have been mandated to establish their own National Committees on Reparations, with recommendations submitted at the regional level for consideration by Heads of State.

Prime Minister Stuart and other leaders will also consider the report on the Commission on the Economy; the Five-Year Strategic Plan for the Caribbean Community; the Community???s position in the context of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Climate Change and Post-2015 Development Agendas; and the state of negotiations for a CARICOM-Canada Trade and Development Agreement, among other items.

They will also meet with business leaders to address such matters as institutional reform, and ways of facilitating greater private sector investment and public-private partnerships.

A number of awards were presented during the opening ceremony, with Marion Bethel of The Bahamas receiving the 11th CARICOM Triennial Award for Women for her outstanding contribution to the socio-economic development of the region, while winner of the CARICOM Song Competition, Michele Henderson of Dominica, copped a prize for her original rendition entitled Celebrating CARICOM.

The conference is being chaired by newly-elected Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne. On Thursday, the regional leaders will meet in a closed-door session. The Heads of Government Conference will conclude on Friday, July 4, with a communiqu?? being issued on the outcome of the deliberations.

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