No CARICOM exit strategy for Jamaica

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness (centre) with (from left) Bruce Golding, newly appointed Chairman of CARICOM Review Commission, economist Damien King, Professor Alvin Wint, and CARICOM Youth Ambassador Andre Mariott-Blake at the launch of the Commission. (Credit: JIS)

 

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday June 29, 2016 – Don’t mistake the recently created CARICOM Review Commission for any plan by Jamaica to pull out of the 15-member regional grouping.

That assurance was given by Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday as he launched the Commission which has been tasked with, among other things, evaluating the effects that Jamaica’s participation in CARICOM has on its economic growth and development.

“We cannot pre-empt what the commission will say, but it was never the intention to lay any groundwork or chart any path out of CARICOM,” Holness assured.

“This is about strengthening Jamaica’s position within the regional integration process, which is absolutely important for Jamaica’s economic growth and development for the next 50 years.”

Debate over whether Jamaica – which has concerns about trade imbalances within CARICOM as well as the treatment of Jamaican nationals in other member states – should leave the grouping was reignited following last week’s referendum in Britain which saw the majority of electorate voting for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

Holness said the referendum was that governments must pay keen attention to what citizens are saying and that was what his administration was doing.

“There is clearly, in Jamaica, a perception of CARICOM, and the solution which I believe works for us is to investigate that, to create the forum in which those views can be given voice, the issues articulated,” the prime minister said. “There are persons who can give context, direction, interpretation, lead opinion, analyse and chart a course forward. That’s the approach that I intend to take – get the expert opinions to interface, interact, exchange the views with the Jamaican people as to where it is we want to go.”

The role of the Commission also includes analyzing CARICOM’s performance against the goals and objectives outlined in the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and identifying the causes of the shortcomings; assessing the value of Jamaica’s membership in CARICOM on its influence in critical international fora and with third state trade and development partners; and assessing whether the CARICOM dispute settlement provisions provide realistic options for settlement of disputes for Jamaica.

The Commission is chaired by former prime minister Bruce Golding and other members will come from the private sector, academia, business, finance and trade unions.

Its first meeting will be held next Tuesday. The Commission is expected to carry out its work and submit a final report within six months.

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