ALBA – TCP Summit: Commitment to cooperation for peace and development

Wednesday, 2021-12-15 09:00:29
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Executive Secretary of the ALBA-TCP, Sacha Llorenti, speaks at a press conference in Havana, Cuba. (Photo: AFP/VNA)
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NDO – The 20th meeting of Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-People's Trade Agreement (ALBA-TCP), which took place in Havana, Cuba, focused on the issues to boost regional integration.

This was a good opportunity to assess the regional scenario, actions to guarantee peace and stability and political agreement in the context that Latin American countries need to promote the solidarity to deal with common challenges like never before.

Gathering ten official members of Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Granada, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Santa Lucia, ALBA-TCP is an integration mechanism based on the spirit of mutual aid among Latin American countries.

This is considered an alternative to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) which was proposed by the US, but failed because it did not receive the support from countries throughout the continent. Facing a series of major challenges for the alliance, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the imposition of unilateral coercive measures against several member countries, the ‘logical problem’ of underdeveloped economies and the climate crisis, countries in the region should have high consensus to find a solution together.

Reaffirming its unchanging commitments to the solidarity, cooperation, unification and peacekeeping in the Americas, the host Cuba said the COVID-19 pandemic is among the main topics in the discussions of the ALBA-TCP.

According to the Executive Secretary of the ALBA-TCP, the political consensus, the emergency response measures against the pandemic and the need to strengthen economic mechanisms were the major issues of the summit, relating to challenges that no country can solve alone, such as climate change, the humanitarian crisis and inequality.

The intra-bloc close links in socio-economic issues were demonstrated by finding solutions for the COVID-19 crisis. The alliance has taken actions to narrow the gap of access to vaccines as well as deal with coercive measures unilaterally imposed by the US against some member countries such as Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

For the efforts to ensure the supply of vaccines against COVID-19, Cuba was at the forefront of boosting cooperation in giving aid and medical supplies among the ALBA-TCP members. The Caribbean island nation donated COVID-19 vaccines to several members in the bloc. This is the considered the ‘fundamental difference’ between the ALBA-TCP and other regional integration organisations such as the Organisation of American States (OAS). The ALBA-TCP is believed as an ‘alliance for life’ by its members.

The summit took place when the countries in the region were facing many difficulties due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The United Nations has recently released a report, saying that the poverty rate in Latin American countries reached 9.1 percent, the highest over the past 15 years. The pandemic hit the job market hard, sending many people into poverty. The moderate or severe food insecurity threatened 267 million Latin Americans.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) said that Latin America and the Caribbean are facing acute food insecurity and the hunger proportion throughout the region increased nearly 70% during the 2014-2020 period. Meanwhile, the World Bank Chief Economist for Latin America and Caribbean noted that the region's economic growth will be lower than expected and reach only 2.8 percent in 2022 and 2.6 percent in 2023.

As one of the regions hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic in the region, Latin America's recovery is forecasted to decrease and its growth will be slower than other regions of the world. Facing the common challenge of the region, the ALBA-TCP countries are committed to working towards a political consensus to prevent outside interference in the internal affairs of the members in the bloc, while strengthening the solidarity, mutual support and cooperation to overcome the current difficult times.

Thu Hien
Translated by NDO