May 16, 2020 - Member States of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) have agreed to establish a framework for dialogue with the Government of Spain. During a special session of the OECS Authority, under the chairmanship of the Honourable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, the OECS Authority engaged with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain, Ms. Arancha González Laya, on a host of issues of common concern.
Ms. Arancha González Laya, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain
While the meeting focused on the various strategies being deployed to respond to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) health and economic crisis, both sides of the discussion agreed to strengthen dialogue and to explore further areas of cooperation.
One of the key outcomes of the meeting was an agreement to establish a framework for dialogue that would explore avenues to strengthen the bi-lateral relationship between the OECS and the Government of Spain.
The Authority expressed concern about the lack of access to concessional funding due to the fact that some OECS Member States are categorised as high-income countries.
The Authority also expressed concern that Member States continue to face the threat of blacklisting as it related to tax policy. Finally, the Authority urged for greater sensitivity to the vulnerabilities that Small Island Developing States face, particularly as it relates to climate related threats.
Honourable Gaston Browne welcomed Spain’s willingness to work closely with the OECS on matters of common concern. Prime Minister Browne said:
“The COVID-19 crisis has once again exposed the vulnerabilities of OECS Member States. Our ineligibility to access concessional funding serves only to complicate our capacity to respond to this existential threat.”
Honourable Gaston Browne, Chair of the OECS Authority
Prime Minister Browne noted that that for the most part, “only medium-term financing instruments are available”, and he stressed the need for “long-term instruments at more attractive rates.”
The Authority expressed full solidarity with the Government and people of Spain as they confront the COVID-19 pandemic and agreed to take concrete steps to strengthen the bilateral ties between the OECS and Spain.
This meeting took place via secure video-link on Wednesday 6 May 2020 and was facilitated by the OECS Geneva Mission.