Antigua PM wants free movement of goods within regional grouping

gaston_browne_400_598747834KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, Tuesday July 29, 2014, CMC – Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne has said that the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) should consider unrestricted circulation of commercial goods within the grouping.

Speaking as outgoing OECS Chairman on Saturday, Browne also told the opening of the of the 59th meeting of the OECS Monetary Authority and the OECS Heads of Government that the sub-grouping needs to seek new ways to respond to the economic woes of members.

“While I would be the first to acknowledge that the free circulation of goods regime is a revenue-sensitive matter, a way can be found to remove the present restrictions on the movement of goods between member states and thus stimulate OECS cross-border trade.”

He said that member states are being pounded by international economic turbulence and called for further integration and pooling of resources.

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Browne’s comments on challenges facing the region were similar to those of St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves on Friday, as he took over chairmanship of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.

Gonsalves said, “We always must remember that the constraints of small size, the effects of the openness of our economies and our essential or indeed existential vulnerabilities, that there are always issues which we have to address and to overcome those limitations while at the same time taking advantage of the possibilities which are inherent among us and in the regional and global system.”

He said the figures indicate that there is only weak to moderate growth in the economies of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.

“These are our main trading partners. But even if we have a moderate recovery in the global economy, there is always a time lag between what takes place there and what takes place here.”

He said that owing to the time lag the region will not see the full impact of that moderate improvement soon.

“So that across the currency union, the expectation is that economic activity will remain moderate to low and that we will probably, as a currency union, not return to the pre-crisis level until by the end of next year.”