Could Jamaica Pull Out of CSME If Specific Targets Not Reached in Five Years?

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday February 7, 2018 – Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday tabled, in the House of Representatives, a copy of the report of the commission that was set up last year to review Jamaica’s relations with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

And it contains a suggestion that the country withdraw from the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) if CARICOM does not implement some reforms within five years.

The Commission, led by former prime minister Bruce Golding, was charged with evaluating the effects of Jamaica’s membership in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on the country’s economic growth and development, with particular reference to trade in goods and services, investment, international competitiveness and job creation.

Tabling the report, Prime Minister Holness underscored that the review was not intended to seek an exit from CARICOM and from various regional arrangements, such as the CSME, but to undertake a full review of the structure, procedures and practices that have not worked effectively in the national and regional interest.

However, he noted that “the recommendations and principles of results-based management and greater public scrutiny are carefully noted. In order to increase effectiveness, a definitive commitment by all Member States to a specific time-bound, measurable and verifiable programme of action to fulfill all their obligations and complete all requirements for the Caribbean Single Market to be fully established and operational within the next five years must be in place”.

“Failure to do so would, at that time, put into question the viability of Jamaica’s continued participation in what would then have to be recognized as an ineffective Caribbean Single Market process, lacking the true commitment of Member States. In such circumstances, one would then have to consider how best Jamaica would be situated in the CARICOM model,” Holness added.

Among the 33 recommendations in the report are: full free movement of people throughout CARICOM, subject only to exclusions for security and public health reasons; harmonization of laws and regulations relating to financial services; harmonization of custom laws, regulations and procedures, especially in the treatment of perishable goods; and agreed protocols on sanitary and phytosanitary standards and procedures.

The report also recommended free circulation of goods imported from outside the CSME, once the appropriate import charges have been paid at the original port of entry; removal of all non-tariff barriers to trade; and implementation of a harmonized investment policy and incentives framework; and the development of a regional investment code.

Prime Minister Holness said he is looking forward to discussing the report with other CARICOM Heads of Government and receiving their feedback, as well as the feedback from the Secretariat.

He said copies of the report will be sent ahead of the 29th Inter-Sessional Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government which will be held in Haiti on February 26.

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