SELA member countries meet to agree on a post-pandemic recovery plan for 2022

agosto 25, 2021
SELA member countries meet to agree on a post-pandemic recovery plan for 2022

Representatives of 17 member countries of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA) gathered together for the First Meeting of the Informal Working Group (IWG), held at the headquarters of the organization in Caracas, Venezuela, to review the status of the Work Programme for 2021, agree on the activities to be concluded this year and start discussions to establish a schedule for the preparation of the Work Programme for 2022.

During the event, the Ambassador of Bolivia, Sebastián Michel, expressed that “the challenges posed by the Permanent Secretariat of SELA are huge. This is a foundational moment because of all the particularities that the revival of the organization entails in a post-pandemic phase that enables us to channel the challenges.”

He added that trade has not reacted as expected, “a situation that is affecting us all equally.”

He noted that one of the challenges is the importance of determining where the wave of countries is headed and what their needs are. He added that one possible route is through the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and that SELA “is strong enough to provide it with technical support.”

He also stressed the importance of designing specific agendas for the subregions, especially the Caribbean, because it is “a recurring victim of natural disasters. It is necessary to reactivate tourism, with particular attention to the affected areas.”

“As a region, we need to strengthen connectivity, telecommunications and lower prices for trade. SELA could support us on those three points,” he said.

For his part, Manuel Rioseco, Counsellor of the Embassy of Chile, noted that the services that SELA could offer means a lot for the countries of the region. “We believe it is important to have a theoretical framework adapted to the new times that require specific situations.”

He highlighted the importance of connectivity for Chile. “There is a project with Asia that could help much of the region promote trade," he said.

For her part, the Vice-Minister for Multilateral Affairs of Venezuela, Daniela Rodríguez, congratulated the new Permanent Secretary of SELA, Ambassador Clarems Endara, on his receptivity and “willingness to address the concerns of our countries.” She wished him every success during his term.

“We believe that the approach should be further strengthened and it is important to contribute to the economic recovery of our region; one of the main priorities is to increase the production of food and medicines and strengthen the scientific and technological centres that allow us to advance in the transfer of technology for our production,” she said.

“We value very much the possibility to strengthen and use the space of SELA as a platform for generating new knowledge and creating joint methodologies to address the problems faced by our countries,” the Vice-Minister of Venezuela added.

During his participation, the Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago, Paul Byam, acknowledged the work of SELA, which he said is “very clear and to the point” in defining what is required to face the challenges and achieve concrete results.

The Trinidadian diplomat added that, given the current cyclone season affecting Caribbean countries, it was important to address the issue of disaster risks. “The Caribbean is an area of high incidence of natural events and must rely on its strengths as its pillars of support.”

He highlighted the importance of taking on “our vulnerabilities and learning to use our strengths to get ahead.” As regards COVID-19, he stressed the need to develop cooperative work to facilitate access to vaccines.

Aquinas Clarke, Chargé d'Affaires a.i. of Barbados, said that COVID-19 exposed the weaknesses of the region. He also stressed that it does not have the economic resources to improve the living conditions of the population. “It is essential for Latin America and the Caribbean to develop resilience policies. Disasters are not going to stop and we must be sustainable and resilient. In the future, we must be prepared to face them.”

He took the opportunity to thank Cuba for the vaccination plan with which it has helped some Caribbean countries.

He stressed the need to promote economic and food security “to strengthen and prepare for the next pandemic. I am hopeful that in the coming months mechanisms can be implemented and existing ones can be strengthened to achieve that goal.”

Finally, the Permanent Secretary of SELA, Ambassador Clarems Endara, called on the delegations to work together on a proactive agenda of consultation to achieve the objectives that respond to the main needs in terms of economic reactivation, digital interconnection, disaster risk prevention and strengthening of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).