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PM in Spain for LatAm- CARICOM-European Summit Talks

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Contact: Prime Minister's Press Secretary

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - Prime Minister Dr. Kenny D. Anthony is in Spain for talks with the Spanish Prime Minister on improving relations between CARICOM and the Spanish Republic.

The Prime Minister left the island yesterday for Madrid, where he will join other CARICOM Heads of Government in meetings with the Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

The CARICOM leaders and their Spanish host will be holding discussions on several issues of bilateral and multilateral interests, aimed at increasing the links between Spain and the Caribbean Community.

In the case of Saint Lucia, Prime Minister Anthony says the island has been attracting interest from an increasing number of Spanish investors and the meeting with Mr. Zapatero will help set the stage for taking the expressions of interest to another stage.

From Spain, the Prime Minister and his colleague CARICOM Heads of Government will travel later this week to Austria, where they will participate in another meeting aimed at improving trans-Atlantic relations between Europe and the developing countries of the Western Hemisphere.

The meeting in Austria will be between representatives of the Heads of Government of the European Union and the leaders of Latin American and Caribbean states.

Before leaving, Prime Minister Anthony said the CARICOM leaders were anxious to meet their EU counterparts to discuss with them the effects of loss of preferential treatment for basic commodity exports to Europe from the region.

He said: “I don’t think the EU leaders sufficiently grasp the enormity of the social and economic dislocation that has resulted from a loss of preferential treatment for products such as bananas and sugar.”

The Saint Lucia Prime Minister said the first meeting between European and Latin American and Caribbean leaders was important “to sensitize the new European leaders in particular, who, frankly, don’t seem to care about the loss of preferential treatment for Europe’s former colonies.”

“We need to sensitize them too about the fallouts, because Europe did not take us seriously enough when we first warned many years ago of the disastrous consequences for our economies of the new trading arrangements and the impacts of the new terms of global trade,” said Dr. Anthony.

Prime Minister Anthony is due to return home over the weekend.

In his absence, the Acting Prime Minister is Hon. Philip J. Pierre.

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