Cuban President Raúl Castro arrived in Antigua and Barbuda on Thursday for the Sixth Caribbean Community (CARICOM)-Cuba Summit at the Carlisle Bay Resort and Spa.
Castro was met on arrival at the V.C. Bird International Airport by Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne and members of his Cabinet and Cuban Government Ministers and officials from the Cuban Embassy in St. John, the Antigua and Barbuda capital, according to an Antigua and Barbuda government statement.
It said the Cuban president was given a Guard of Honor for his first official visit to the country.
The Sixth CARICOM-Cuba summit will be co-chaired by the chairman of CARICOM, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell of Grenada, and Castro.
“This meeting marks 45 years of diplomatic relations between CARICOM and Cuba, and will examine issues of regional and global importance, including climate change adaptation and disaster risk management,” the statement said.
“A Memorandum of Understanding will be signed between the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and Cuba’s Agency for Civil Defense which will provide opportunities for closer collaboration, especially following the devastating impact of the September 2017 hurricanes across the region, and the increased focus on climate change resilience,” it added.
Friday’s discussions will also review the status of the decades-old CARICOM-Cuba cooperation in commercial and economic areas, the statement said.
It said trade relations between the two parties were strengthened in November 2017 with the signing of the Second Protocol to the CARICOM-Cuba Trade Agreement.
The protocol expands reciprocal duty-free market access to more than 320 items, including meat, fish, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, beer, rum, cement, soap and apparel.
Cuba, a significant development partner, has supported the Community in building its human resource capacity through scholarship programs offered in several areas of study, including health and medicine, sports, agriculture and trade, the statement said.
It said the summit will conclude with the adoption of a CARICOM-Cuba Joint Declaration.