What is CARICOM?

  • The Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) is a group of 20 developing countries in the Caribbean, that have come together to form an economic and political community that works together to shape policies for the region and encourages economic growth and trade
  • Its major activities involve
    • coordinating economic policies and development planning
    • devising and instituting special projects for the less-developed countries within its jurisdiction
    • operating as a regional single market for many of its members (Caricom Single Market); and
    • handling regional trade disputes
  • The secretariat headquarters is in Georgetown, Guyana.
  • CARICOM is an official United Nations Observer beneficiary
  • The 15 full-time countries are as follows:
    • Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, Saint Kits and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago
  • The associate members are Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos


The timeline – CARICOM



  • Prior to the alliance, While India had diplomatic relations with the individual Caribbean countries for a long time, India thought of developing relations with CARICOM countries as a group much later
  • As a result, a CARICOM delegation visited India in 2003
    • The major outcome of the visit was that an agreement was signed between India and CARICOM Secretariat for establishing a Standing Joint Commission on Consultation, Cooperation and Coordination
  • The first meeting of India-CARICOM Foreign Ministers was held on 15th February 2005 at Paramaribo (Suriname) on the side lines of CARICOM Summit. The Possible areas of cooperation identified at this meeting included
    • India’s membership of the Caribbean Development Bank (through which India would be able to coordinate development and integration projects in the region)
    • Promotion of trade in goods
    • Services and investments with greater Indian participation in Caribbean infrastructure development and regional investment
    • Supply of retroviral drugs for fighting HIV/AIDS
  • The next significant high level interaction between the two sides commenced with the First Meeting of the India-CARICOM Joint Commission held in Georgetown, Guyana in June 2015; and further at the second meeting in September 2015
    • The two sides discussed issues relating to on cooperation in capacity building, promotion of bilateral trade, enhancement of people-to-people contact, facilitation of visas, etc. Discussions were also focussed on further strengthening India-CARICOM bilateral relations through cooperation in regional/multilateral issues


Areas of Cooperation


    • In a Ministerial meeting of 2017, India announced the offer of emergency aid of US$ 200,000/- to the worst affected CARICOM countries (US$ 100,000 each to Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica) and additional US$ 2 million from the India-UN Partnership Fund for South-South Cooperation for rehabilitation projects in CARICOM
    • Recently in 2019, Indian Prime Minister offered US$ 14 million Grant (US$ 1million per CARICOM member state) for quick impact community development projects in CARICOM countries


Political relations

    • Measures taken to strengthen India-CARICOM bilateral relations include:
      • Focussed cooperation in capacity building with emphasis on the completion of training of Young Diplomats of CARICOM countries in India, and also training in Project Management and Strategic Planning
    • During the meeting It was decided to establish an India-CARICOM Task Force to reinvigorate India-CARICOM cooperation



    • Both entities have vowed for cooperation relating to:
      • Promotion of business and trade
      • Enhancement of people to people contact
      • organising training programmes in various sectors particularly in animal and dairy sector
      • organising workshop for CARICOM drug regulators
      • sharing of Indian expertise in traditional medicines
      • holding business events and cultural festivals and facilitation of visas
    • India has also called for building a road-map for cooperation in the field of respective organisations of small and medium enterprises and invited member states of CARICOM to participate in the India International Trade Fair
    • The Government of India and the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) signed a Contribution Agreement in 2019, which provides for a grant allocation of US$ 1 million to the CDF’s capital fund
      • These resources will support implementation of the CDF’s mandate to provide financial and technical assistance to disadvantaged countries, regions and sectors within CARICOM, in accordance with Article 158 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the Caribbean Community, including the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME)


Other areas

    • Bothe entities also exchange views on regional and multilateral issues such as terrorism, climate change, sustainable development, etc., in addition to inviting CARICOM member countries to join the International Solar Alliance.
    • In this perspective, India offered US$ 150 million Line of Credit (US$ 10 million per CARICOM member state) for CARICOM countries for solar energy and climate change related projects
      • Recently, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda joined the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
    • India’s ‘Vaccine Maitri’ initiative resulted in humanitarian donation of 5.7 lakh doses of vaccines for the Caribbean Region
    • In software and information technology, the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC) is one of the prongs of the Development Partnership Administration established in 2012 in the Ministry of External Affairs, India with CARICOM


India-CARICOM Challenges

Geographical Barrier

    • The primary reason for low trade and investment is cited as long distances and complicated sea routes, resulting in high transportation and allied costs, such as insurance
    • There are no direct sea trade routes and shipments have to pass through different ports
    • Lack of information on how to do business with these countries adds to business risks and deters businesses from exploring opportunities

Cultural Barrier

    • Challenges to greater economic ties also include a poor understanding of each other, including a major deficit in Spanish and Portuguese language skills in India and lack of proficiency in English in parts of these countries


Way forward

Having the advantage of a sizeable Indian diasporic community in the region along with the natural complementarities of products for trade with the region, CARICOM region is apt for closer cooperation and for exploring further avenues for interaction for India—both bilateral and multilateral—based on multiple areas of mutual interests and concerns with the CARICOM countries