Eastern Caribbean Countries Want More Time To Join CSM

Hardbeatnews, KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tues. Jan. 31, 2006: Heads of state of the Eastern Caribbean group of countries yesterday said they need another three months to ensure they are compliant to the CARICOM Single Market.

During a meeting in Jamaica prior to the official CSM ceremony yesterday, the heads of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines agreed to push back the date for compliance to June 30. But they did sign the declaration of intent to sign on to the CSM during the ceremony at UWI yesterday afternoon. The CSM compliant process was to have been completed since last December. Compliance requires that member states remove all legal and administrative impediments to the free movement of goods and services; the free movement of people and the free movement of capital.

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer, in explaining the decision, said that while the OECS leaders are fully committed to the process of moving the CSM forward there were some concerns that the timetable as being set by CARICOM in terms of being able to meet all the basic requirements under the treaty.
“We have determined that in order for the OECS territories to be on board and to be able to fully implement the CARICOM treaty as it relates to the CSM, that more time would be needed for all the OECS countries to come onboard,” he stated in a government release.

He added that the extension would give the individual territories a chance to look at their legislative agenda.

But six member states yesterday reaffirmed their commitment to make the CSM a reality before a large gathering of Caribbean Prime Ministers and key regional stakeholders at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies.

Prime Minister of Jamaica, P.J. Patterson, said it had taken the Caricom Community sixteen years since the Grand Andes declaration in 1999 to make the giant leap to implement the provision of the Single Market but stressed that among the benefits to be derived from the advent of the Single Market are enhanced trade and economic relations, a more effective coordination of foreign and economic policies and increased clout in international negotiations.

He said the CSM implementation is also expected to result in unprecedented market access for regional goods and services, a marked expansion in business and services, whether large or small, traditional or non traditional, increased investment, enhanced levels of economic growth and ultimately higher standards of living.

“The Single Market and ultimately the Single Economy must be seen as building blocs towards developing greater trade and economic cooperation with immediate neighbors in the Caribbean, partners in the hemisphere and also to strengthen arrangements with traditional partners in the European Union,” he stated. “The small size of the combined regional space and the openness of our economy make it imperative for CARICOM to rapidly consolidate the regional market and economy. This must be the bedrock as we formulate common negotiation strategies and positions.”

Prime Minister of Barbados, Owen Arthur, who holds lead responsibility for the implementation of the CSME, in addressing those present at the inauguration ceremony said, there needs to be a consciousness, “of the extraordinary obligation that rests upon us all to make Caribbean unity an effective instrument to achieve Caribbean progress,” according to GINA reports.

He added that integration is a necessity as it forms an indispensable foundation upon which rests national and economic endeavors.

Caribbean Heads of Government took a decision in 2002 that all member states would institute programs for the removal of restrictions so that there would be one single market.

The CSME seeks to convert its 15-member states into a single, enlarged economic entity, a single market and is intended to provide an open market without cross-border restrictions and therefore, seeks to facilitate the free movement of final products, goods, labor and services. – Hardbeatnews.com