PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Mar 4, CMC – Two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries have been granted a five year deferral on the freedom of movement of Caribbean nationals under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) that allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across the 15-member grouping, Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has said.
While he did not name the two regional countries, Rowley, speaking at a news conference here on Sunday, reminded reporters that Port of Spain had last December hosted a special CARICOM summit on the CSME where “we got unanimous support for the acceleration towards a single market and economy.
“In that arrangement is the whole question of freedom of movement of individuals…among the territories, everybody agreed to that (but) by the next meeting, while there is commitment to that two CARICOM territories raised and asked for a deferral of the freedom of movement which that development was directing us to”.
He said these two territories were able to tell CARICOM at the two-day Inter-sessional meeting in St. Kitts-Nevis last week that “we have been practising in this before the rest of you have now agreed to do it.
“So within our borders, we have a huge amount of Caribbean people for whom no barrier was put to them. Now that we are saying it is to be policy…and legal standing is put for ease of migration these two territories found themselves saying this may generate within our borders and in some instances have already generated concerns about the balance of the population within their borders’.
Rowley told reporters that as a result the two territories “asked for a five year deferral as not to be bound legally to accept any and all who would come into their borders because the effect that would have”.
He said this situation had only arisen “because of the size. It is not the willingness to participate or the willingness to accept the CSME as the best arrangement for us. But this effect on the smallest is a practical situation and I dare say that the rest of the CARICOM saw and understood what was being said by our CARICOM neighbours in that situation and granted the deferral”.
In the communique issued following the summit in St. Kitts-Nevis, the regional leaders said regarding the CSME that they had “reviewed progress on decisions taken” at a previous summit and that “welcomed the fact that all countries have signed the Protocol on Contingent Rights.
“In addition, eight countries have decided to apply the measures that would allow their nationals to benefit in those countries from the provisions of that agreement on contingent rights which allows for spouses and dependents of skilled workers who move to another country to access services such as education and health on the same basis as nationals”.
It said that these countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States which are participating in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) have all signed on to the Protocol on Contingent Rights and a majority are prepared to immediately begin provisional application of the Protocol.
The full complement of signatories to the Protocol was acquired at the just-concluded 30th Intersessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, in Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis. The two-day Meeting wrapped up on 27 February.
Back in July 2018, at the 39th Meeting of the Conference in Montego Bay, Jamaica, when the Heads of Government reviewed the operation of the CSME, they reiterated the need to accelerate its implementation and adopted the Protocol on Contingent Rights. The Protocol covers the rights of persons moving to another country under the free movement of skills regime, as well as the spouses and dependents of those who move to another country.
On Tuesday, Chair of Conference, Dr. the Hon Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, announced that all 12 Member States had now signed on to the Protocol and nine of those countries were prepared to provisionally apply the Protocol: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.
“This means that the nationals of those countries, their spouses and dependents will benefit from additional rights such as primary education when they move from one Member State of the Community to another,” the CARICOM Chairman explained.
Also at the Meeting, the was the Agreement on the Protocol for Public Procurement was opened for signature. That Protocol can be provisionally applied when seven Member States have signed a declaration of intent. It will enter into force when all parties to the Revised Treaty sign on.
“We’ve also reached agreement on a protocol to deal with public procurement that would open the regional market for goods and services procured by public entities. Two countries signed this agreement during the course of the Meeting,” Prime Minister Harris said.
Another decision that was made in the context of the CSME was the strengthening the consultative mechanisms for engagements with the private sector, labour and civil society. Heads of Government agreed to meet with representatives of national Business and Labour Advisory Committees (BLAC) twice every year. They emphasised that this was essential for enhanced regional decision-making, particularly in the context of the CSME.
Please listen to the press conference:
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, February 28, 2019 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, highlighted the gains made towards the regional integration movement, particularly through the signing of the Protocol of Contingent Rights by all CARICOM Member States, as one of the success stories coming out of the 30th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government, held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort, Frigate Bay, from February 26-27.
The Protocol of Contingent Rights is viewed as a key aspect of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). It refers to the rights granted to a CARICOM national and his or her spouse and immediate dependent family members if he or she moves to another country under the free movement of skills regime. These rights include access to social services.
The official communiqué issued at the conclusion of this week’s Inter-Sessional Meeting stated that, “Eight countries have decided to apply the measures that would allow their nationals to benefit in those countries from the provisions of that agreement on contingent rights which allow for spouses and dependents of skilled workers who move to another country to access services such as education and health on the same basis as nationals. The countries involved are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.”
Furthermore, the CARICOM Heads reached an agreement on a protocol to deal with public procurement that would open the regional market for goods and services procured by public entities.
“All in all, we have had a very successful two days which would redound to the benefit of the citizens and to our international image,” Prime Minister Harris stated.
A special meeting of the Council or Trade and Economic Development (COTED) focusing on Transportation, will be held Monday in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, who is lead Head of Government with responsibility for Air and Maritime Transportation, will host the Meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Regional Ministers with responsibility for the Transport sector will hold discussions on a number of critical matters including the restructuring of the Regional Transportation Commission. The meeting will also hold talks on the Regional Maritime Safety and Security Oversight System (RMSSOS), and strengthening institutional capacity to deliver on the rights, benefits and obligations under the Multilateral Air Services Agreement (MASA). The establishment of a single air space is also on the agenda of the meeting as is the movement of agricultural products.
The Meeting will fulfill a mandate from the special session of the Conference of Heads of Government on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) which was held in Trinidad and Tobago in December last year. At the December meeting, Heads of Government said that they would examine the re-introduction of the single domestic space for passengers in the Region.
They agreed to work towards having a single security check for direct transit passengers on multi-stop intra-Community flights. The Heads of government also decided that they would conduct a special session on Air and Maritime Transportation at the Intersessional meeting of the Conference 26-27 February 2019 to focus “on this critical aspect of integration as a whole and the CSME in particular”. The decisions of the COTED Meeting on Transportation will inform the agenda of that special session.
The Intersessional Meeting will be held in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Security guards and agricultural workers are expected to have an easier time moving across the Region for work in the near future.
The Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) on Labour is doing its part to move the process forward by having a special meeting this week to further discussions on the matter.
The meeting will be held with Ministers of Labour across the Region via videoconference, on 6 February 2019 from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon.
Assistant Secretary General in Charge of Human and Social Development at the CARICOM Secretariat, Dr. Douglas Slater, and Chairman of the meeting, Minister of Labour and Small Enterprises and Development, Trinidad and Tobago Mrs. Jennifer Baptiste Primus, will give brief remarks at the opening.
The purpose of the Special Meeting of the COHSOD is to further efforts towards implementing the mandate from the CARICOM Heads of Government for Agricultural Workers and Security Guards to move under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). The COHSOD is to advise on the avenues that can be used to facilitate the movement of Community nationals in these categories. In particular, the Meeting will determine definitions of these categories and the mechanisms to be used to assess who is an agricultural worker or security guard. A definition of household domestics will also be considered.
The Council will be guided by proposals from consultations with stakeholders in the agriculture and security sectors held on 15 January 2019. Delegates will also be guided by discussions that took place in September and November of 2018 regarding the definition of household domestics at the Twentieth Meeting of Officials on the Free Movement of Skills and the Facilitation of Travel and the Forty-Seventh Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED).
The CARICOM Heads of Government, at its Eighteenth Special Meeting on the CSME (3 – 4 December 2018) agreed to extend the categories of nationals entitled to move across the Region to include Agricultural Workers and Security Guards under the CSME. The Conference agreed that these additional categories are to be facilitated administratively by the end of February 2019 and implemented into legislation by Member States by the end of July. The Conference had agreed previously that household domestics with a Caribbean Vocational Qualification were eligible to move under the CSME.
The importance of investing in youth, including treatment and rehabilitation for those who are using and addicted to alcohol and other drugs, was underscored at the Official Opening of the Regional Adolescent Training Workshops on 4 February 2019 in Trinidad and Tobago. To this end, partnerships, relevant policies and adolescents’ prevention programmes, among others, were emphasised by speakers who represented the CARICOM Secretariat, Delegation of the European Union, Organisation of the American States (OAS) and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
The initiative will build the capacity of more than 50 representatives working with adolescents and youth from the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) States. An activity under the Drug Demand Reduction Component of the EU-Crime and Security Programme, funded under the Tenth EDF, the workshop’s objective is “to strengthen the capabilities of persons working with adolescents and youth to understand and appropriately respond to those with problematic drug use”.
According to CARICOM Secretariat Coordinator, Health and Human Development Beverly Reynolds, “ building capacity to effectively respond to the drug challenge in this population group is part of the thrust to ensure sustainability of the DDR programmes, post-project”.
Participants, drawn from various sectors, including Social Work and Social Protection, Education, Youth, Youth Work, Adolescent Health, Law Enforcement and the Justice and Probation System, are undertaking six days of training and will be tested at the end of the exercise. Those who are successful will receive certification from the University of the West Indies.
The opening of the intervention was headlined by Parliamentary Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of National Security, Hon. Glenda Jennings Smith, who spoke of the centrality of citizens to the country’s development and emphasised the need for inclusion.
“We must ensure that our society evolves into one where no one is left behind…where all citizens are accorded equal opportunity to access social services and all our citizens including the most vulnerable such as our elderly, children and youth, are cared for and treated with dignity and respect”, she said
She said also, she was “encouraged that the modules to be delivered in this workshop, included a focus on adolescents in conflict with the law”, and expressed her optimism on the outcome the interventions.
The Organisation of American States’ representative, Mariana Piper, in her remarks noted that the Caribbean was a high area of priority for the OAS, and that the programme being implemented was a model of the translation of research to programmes.
Ms. Piper referred to research which showed high levels of substance use among students in successive Secondary Schools across the Region which, she said, was supported by the Diagnostic Assessment of the Region in 2012.
That Assessment showed that there was” no specific training for treating adolescents; only 50 per cent of facilities provided services to adolescents and a few services available for detained adolescents; and fewer services available to “out of school youth”.
The OAS representative called for consideration to be given to “drug dependency as a chronic disease that must be dealt with as a core element of public health policy”, and emphasised the need for partnerhsips.
“As we pursue solution-based interventions for drug dependent offenders who are in conflict with the law, the training offered by this programme is a clear demonstration of the interdependence of the issues with which we all treat, and underscores the need for ongoing collaboration, both internally and externally”.
The need for partnerships was reiterated by the EU representative Monica, Paul-McLean, who noted that the intervention was a “shining example”.
“The concept of shared responsibility and partnership can become the basis for international cooperation and the EU will continue to promote just that”, she said.
Ms. Paul-McLean also said that the EU’s strategies were” to build partnerships on a global level and work systematically with regional organisations”, adding “the internationalisation of crime requires more than ever, the internationalisation of partnerships”
Like other speakers the EU representative highlighted that prevention programmes were necessary to fight crime –
“It means intervening early and keeping kids out of gangs, in the first place…. The drug problem cannot be seen as a law enforcement issue alone. It is also about poverty, unemployment, social exclusion and education, she said
She pointed out it was for that reason that” the EU’s safety and security related programmes in the region do not only upgrade the infrastructure of law enforcement agencies, but also promote community cohesion and include risks facilitiates that give troubled youths to change the trajectory of their lives before the problems become uncontrollable.”
The CARICOM Secretariat Assistant Secretary-General for Human and Social Development, Dr. Douglas Slater, reiterated the timeliness and relevance of the intervention.
“The focus on adolescent and youth and on building capabilities among those who interface and work with them on a daily basis is in keeping with the Social Resilience Pillar of the Community’s Strategic Plan. It is also in keeping with the Human Resource Development Strategy which seeks to enhance factors and capabilities for improving education and life-long learning”, the ASG said.
The workshops run from 4-9 February 2019. Regional Master Trainers will instruct participants from modules developed by CICAD/OAS in the areas of Adolescent Development; Screening and Assessment; Trauma and Trauma informed Care; Adolescents in Conflict with the Law; Adolescent Drug Treatment and Family Interventions.
The CARICOM Secretariat is collaborating with the Executive Secretariat of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of the Organisation of American States and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, Ministry of National Security National Drug Council on this event.
WE, the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), meeting at Port of Spain Trinidad and Tobago 3-4 December, 2018 on the occasion of the 18th Special Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM;
Recalling the 1989 Declaration of Grand Anse which initiated the process towards the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), the signing of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas in 2001, which established the CSME and the launch of the CSME in 2006;
Convinced that the CSME continues to be the most viable platform for supporting growth and development in the Member States of CARICOM;
Recognising the need to make it more closely attuned to the needs and priorities of Member States and contributing more visibly to growth and development and to the welfare of the people of the Community;
Having reviewed its progress and acknowledged that it should have been further advanced;
Having considered the “Report of the Commission to Review Jamaica’s Relations within the CARICOM and CARIFORUM Frameworks”;
Having also considered the perspectives of the Member States of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS);
Underscoring the critical role of the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) in supporting the CSME;
Having exchanged views with the representatives of the private sector and labour and encouraged by their commitment to the regional integration project and their recommendations for the enhancement of the CSME;
Recognising that the goal of our regional integration process is to enhance the well-being of all of the citizens of our Community;
We are committed to take action at the national level to advance the regional integration agenda;
We are determined to ensure the equitable distribution among the peoples of the Community of the gains realised through the regional integration process;
We have agreed on a formalised, structured mechanism to facilitate dialogue between the Councils of the Community and the private sector and labour;
We have also agreed to amend the Treaty to include as Associate Institutions representative bodies of Private Sector and Labour;
We have agreed that in accordance with Article 50 of the Revised Treaty which deals with the principle of accelerated implementation, that the principle will be applied to any initiative which is consistent with the Revised Treaty;
We agreed that that those Member States so willing would move towards full free movement within the next three (3) years;
We have mandated that steps be taken to deepen cooperation and collaboration between the Secretariats of CARICOM and the OECS to avoid duplication and maximise the utility of scarce resources;
We will reinforce the operation of our security mechanisms to ensure the integrity of the regime allowing the free movement of CARICOM nationals;
We will examine the re-introduction of the single domestic space for passengers in the Region;
We have agreed to work towards having a single security check for direct transit passengers on multi-stop intra-Community flights;
We will conduct a special session on Air and Maritime Transportation at the Intersessional meeting of the Conference in February 2019 to focus on this critical aspect of integration as a whole and the CSME in particular;
We will include Agricultural Workers, Beauty Service Practitioners, Barbers and Security Guards to the agreed categories of skilled nationals who are entitled to move freely and seek employment within the Community;
We reiterate that that a skills certificate issued by one Member State would be recognised by all Member States;
We will complete legislative and other arrangements in all Member States for all categories of Free Movement of Skilled Persons;
We will finalise the regime that permits citizens and companies of the Community to participate in the Public Procurement processes in Member States by the year 2019;
We will take all necessary steps to allow for mutual recognition of companies incorporated in a CARICOM Member State;
We have mandated the Community Council to develop appropriate recommendations on the proposal for the introduction of a regime of sanctions for the consideration of the Conference;
We welcome Haiti’s commitment to full integration into the CSME by 2020;
We have appointed Professor Avinash Persaud to lead a restructured Commission on the Economy to advise Member States on a Growth Agenda for the Community
Other Members of the Commission on the Economy (CCE) –
CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Andrew Holness of Jamaica has urged the ‘head on’ tackling of complex issues during the Special CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting on the CSME, taking place in Trinidad and Tobago.
The two-day meeting, which wraps up on Tuesday, is addressing the rate of implementation of the CSME and making sure its benefits are available for Community nationals.
“The issues slated for discussion at this Special Meeting of the Conference are of varying complexity,” Prime Minister Holness noted.
“Some will no doubt evoke different, even conflicting views but we must confront them. We must also tackle ‘head on’ the imperatives if we are to make this important regional integration process deliver on its promise,” he urged.
See the Chairman’s full Statement:
I bring greetings on behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica and I welcome this opportunity to say thank you to my colleague, Prime Minister Keith Rowley for the warm hospitality and excellent arrangements that have been put in place for this Special Meeting.
You would all know of course that our colleague, President Granger will not be joining us this morning. I know it is the wish of all Heads of State and Government and of this entire gathering that our best wishes be conveyed to him, his family and the people of Guyana, for the strength to hasten his recovery and return to full service of the country he loves so well.
Having just come from the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, where I represented our countries in the capacity of Chairman-in-Office of CARICOM, I am pleased to report that it was a fruitful process of engagement. I had the opportunity to speak in the Plenary to two topics that are of critical importance to our Community – those being, the issue of the vulnerability of the small developing states of the Caribbean, especially the island states to the effects of Climate Change and the need for transition to clean and sustainable sources of energy, particularly renewables, mindful among other things of the correlation between extreme climate phenomena and emissions from the predominant use of fossil fuels.
With specific reference to Climate Change, I was able to have my first meeting with President Macron of France, where we were joined by UN Secretary General Guterres, to discuss the modalities for leading our joint mandate to galvanize the US$100 billion committed almost 10 years ago by developed countries to deal with the issues of adaptation. In our case a parallel urgent need will be the building or resilience. As we are all painfully aware, the need for developed countries to meet this commitment is of paramount interest to our region and, in fact, to all vulnerable small island developing states. I will therefore keep you briefed as the process develops.
Let me now turn to the business that has brought us here to Port of Spain. The issues slated for discussion at this Special Meeting of the Conference are of varying complexity. Some will no doubt evoke different, even conflicting views but we must confront them. We must also tackle ‘head on’ what the imperatives if we are to make this important regional integration process deliver on its promise.
I am, however, encouraged by the fact that our Community has a long tradition of dialogue and compromise. For this reason, I remain convinced that our deliberations over these two days will culminate in unity of purpose and consensus on a strategy to not only expedite the CSME implementation process across Member States but to also to make the CSME more effective.
I will soon conclude my Chairmanship of this Conference of Heads of our 45 year-old Community. I approach the end of my tenure with mixed feelings. I feel a sense of pride in the renewed energy placed behind efforts to make good on our commitments to our estimated sixteen million citizens. In some respects, we have sought to simply get things done by following through and implementing some critical decisions with a view to making the mechanisms within CARICOM rational and functional. However, it cannot have escaped your notice that even with this renewed energy and additional meetings, that implementation of our decisions remains uneven and less than optimal.
We took the momentum generated at the 39th Regular Session held in Montego Bay to activate work that had lain dormant since 2013. We also took an important step to respond to the concerns of our Community Nationals that they want and indeed deserve to be treated better and with respect and dignity, when they are denied entry into a Member State. We adopted the Procedures on the Refusal of Entry, which provide the much needed guarantee that the rights of Community Nationals will be safeguarded when Member States assess that they are undesirable and will be a charge on the public purse. I trust we have all taken the necessary steps to implement the Procedures at our respective ports of entry.
Some of us also demonstrated our firm commitment to ensure that the CSME Regimes not only work for the principal beneficiaries but also their families, through the signature of the Protocol on Contingent Rights.
During the course of this special meeting, we will be expected to push the boundaries even further by addressing other important areas that need our full attention. We will be called upon to examine in more detail lessons that can be gleaned from the Report of the Commission to Review Jamaica’s Relations within the CARICOM and CARIFORUM Frameworks – a Report, commissioned by me with the ultimate goal of not only determining which aspects of our regional engagements have not met their intended objectives to advance the regional integration process, in line with the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, but what changes we should make / what recommitments could ensure that the goals of the CSME be successfully achieved in the interest of all our peoples.
I am gratified that the Conference, not only welcomed the Report as being an important analytical piece of work, in relation to the objectives of the CSME but we also agreed that the findings and recommendations in that Report ought to be examined in detail to determine what could be of most benefit to achieving the objectives of Member States and the Community.
In this connection, we will, at this meeting, also be called upon to consider Some Salient Issues for Resolution in CARICOM – a Paper written by our colleague Ralph. As the longest serving Head of Government in our region and as the only Head of Government to have publicly commented on the contents of the CCRC Report shortly after its release, we are appreciative of the insightful comments of Prime Minister Gonsalves. We regret that he is not with us for this meeting, but we are sure that his Minister will represent him well presenting additional perspectives on how we can collectively and practically serve the interests of our countries and peoples.
Within the context of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on the CSME we have, with the determination and ingenuity of Prime Minister Mia Mottley, devised methods to improve stakeholder engagement and help create enabling support measures for a competitive Single Market. We have also begun a process of making radical adjustments to ensure the implementation of our collective trade and economic policies and to secure the consolidation of our single economic space.
But in all of this, we have uneven implementation and a fundamental question of commitment. I could not close without recognizing the disappointing number of Heads of Government present today given the decision taken in Montego Bay and the expressed decision taken for us to have focused and pivotal discussions at this meeting. I know that Ministers are undoubtedly empowered to represent their governments, and I welcome you all, but the signal of commitment, is again, less than optimal.
I anticipate that there will be frank and even spirited discussions on all agenda items, but emanating hopefully in constructive action, given what is at stake – a strong and prosperous CARICOM or a body lessening in credibility among the people who we serve. As we all focus on the attainment of the sustainable development goals at the regional level, we must act in concert to ensure that all the people of CARICOM can reap the benefits of regional integration process.
Let our deliberations begin.
By Elizabeth Morgan
THROUGH complacency, poor management and lack of vision the West Indies cricket team is now the sick man of cricket, struggling for a place at the bottom. It is said that the state of cricket in the Caribbean reflects the political, social and economic state of the region.
Since the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas was signed in 2002, complacency, insularity, lack of commitment, and poor management have led to stagnation and discontent in the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). Consequently, CARICOM has had many missed opportunities to realise its potential.
CARICOM heads of government will be attending a special meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad, over two days beginning today, December 3. The meeting will be chaired by Prime Minister Andrew Holness of Jamaica as the current chair of CARICOM . The priority item on the agenda will be the implementation of the CSME. The decision to convene this meeting was taken at the Caricom Heads of Government Conference held in Montego Bay in July. This conference considered the report of the Bruce Golding Commission on CARICOM and CARIFORUM which was a call for action.
Barbados has lead responsibility for the CSME in the CARICOM Quasi Cabinet. New Prime Minister Mia Mottley, in her maiden address, stated her commitment to moving the CSME forward. She demonstrated that commitment by convening a meeting of the Prime Ministerial Subcommittee on the CSME in Barbados in September. She has made her position clear – the countries of CARICOM need to stand together and the time for implementation is now.
It was while attending the CSME meeting in Barbados that the President of Guyana David Granger reiterated his country’s commitment to the regional project and invited member states to join with Guyana as the country embarked on its journey as an oil producer. Granger wants Guyana’s oil to benefit the entire region.
CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque told the 47th Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), on November 16, that budding trade wars, Brexit, and threats to the rules-based multilateral trading system all had implications for Caricom. He stated that agreement on and implementation of regional trade and economic policies assumed greater importance if CARICOM was to safeguard its interest in the global arena and improve the lives of the people of the region. The most important immediate task for the region, as the secretary general saw it, was to advance the implementation of the CSME.
With the background of an uncertain global environment, CARICOM heads will be examining how the CSME can contribute to trade and development. Indeed, with recent developments abroad and in the region it should be clear to all that CARICOM has to stand together. Recall that CARICOM needs to focus more on trade as a means of implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
CARICOM member states are not each other’s principal trading partners. The principal trade partner of CARICOM countries is the United States. The CSME was intended not only to promote trade within CARICOM , but to place CARICOM in a position to increase its external trade as a region by creating the policy framework and infrastructure required. The failure to implement the CSME, to the full extent possible, has meant a failure to establish the policy framework and infrastructure for international trade.
CARICOM has not strengthened its sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) regime, its intellectual property rights regime, and its trade in services regime. There is little uniformity in policies and regulations within CARICOM . If the CSME is to contribute to the region’s trade and development, then heads must be paying attention to the following:
TRADE IN SERVICES
Trade is not just about goods; it is about the export and import of goods and services. Trade in services is particularly important for the region and is contributing a greater share to gross domestic product (GDP). Services include tourism, financial and accounting services (banking, insurance, money transfer); consultancy; business processing; education; transportation; postal and courier; distribution; creative and cultural industries; among others. It also includes movement of people.
Currently, services data is only collected for balance of payments purposes and this data is not disaggregated. Thus CARICOM actually does not know the value and volume of services trade which is conducted within the region or between the region and third countries. Trade in services data is not properly collected in CARICOM as a region or in individual member states.
A reason given in Jamaica for the inability to strengthen services data collection is that the private sector is reluctant to complete the required surveys. This lack of data affects planning and trade negotiations. Therefore, the implementation of the CARICOM services regime needs to be accelerated.
Antigua and Barbuda is the lead responsible for the services regime in the quasi cabinet.
EXTERNAL TRADE NEGOTIATIONS
Trade, as we know, makes an important contribution to growth and development. If Caricom’s principal trading partners are outside of the region, then consideration of external trade issues and developing a regional trade agenda/strategy should be important. As the secretary general pointed out, the rules-based multilateral trade system is under threat. Reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is being proposed. The Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA) with the USA is up for renewal in 2019. Brexit requires an examination of trade with the UK, the Commonwealth, African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, and the EU27.
CARICOM needs to re-examine trade with Latin America and the Caribbean and its neighbours. CARICOM ‘s trade agenda/strategy has not been reviewed since the suspension of the trade negotiations with Canada in 2015. Much has happened in global trade since then. The lead prime minister responsible for external trade negotiations in the quasi cabinet is Jamaica. A CARICOM trade agenda and strategy need to be formulated at the earliest opportunity.
There should be a mandate coming out of this special heads meeting to address these issues as a priority. The members of the quasi cabinet all need to play their part in driving the CSME implementation. Besides Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and Jamaica, others needing to give support, including Grenada, responsible for science and technology as well as information and communications; Dominica responsible for labour, including intra-CARICOM movement of skills; Guyana, responsible for agriculture; St Vincent and the Grenadines responsible for transportation; and Trinidad and Tobago, responsible for Energy and Security.
As demonstrated in cricket, it takes a good, committed, well-managed team to achieve consistent positive results.
Elizabeth Morgan is a specialist in international trade and politics.
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government were challenged to move the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) forward by Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. the Honourable Keith Rowley.
Speaking this morning at the start of their 18th Special Meeting which is focused on the CSME at the Hilton Hotel in Port of Spain, the host Prime Minster posed the question, “if not now, when; if not us, who?”
The two-day meeting is looking at increasing the rate of implementation of the CSME and making sure the benefits are available for Community nationals. The meeting is being chaired by the current chairman of CARICOM, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Honourable Andrew Holness.
The first item on today’s agenda was an engagement between the CARICOM Heads of Government and representatives from the regional Private and Labour sectors. This encounter was the brainchild of the lead Head of Government for the CSME in the CARICOM Quasi-Cabinet, the Hon Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados.