Enhancing regional air and maritime transportation and further advancing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) are among matters for deliberation when CARICOM Heads of Government hold their 30th Inter-Sessional Meeting in Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis, 26-27 February.
Heads of Government will examine recommendations from a Special Meeting of the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on Transportation, held in St Vincent and the Grenadines on 18 February, which dealt with, among other things the Multilateral Air Services Agreement (MASA), proposals for a regional ferry service and easier security check-in for in-transit passengers. MASA, when implemented, will serve as a mechanism to maximize the economic and social benefits arising from aviation activities for CARICOM air carriers.
The Meeting will seek to further advance measurable steps for action on the CSME which were identified at a Special Meeting of Heads in Trinidad and Tobago in December. These include new categories for free movement of persons, Heads of Government engagement with the private sector and labour, and operationalizing the Protocol on Contingent Rights which was signed by ten Member States during and since the 39th Regular Meeting in Jamaica last July. Security matters and blacklisting issues affecting Member States are also before the Heads for consideration.
Heads of Government will also have an exchange of views with the President of Estonia Her Excellency Kersti Kaljulaid.
The Meeting, at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort and Royal Beach Casino, begins at 9:30 on Tuesday 26 February with remarks by CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris of St Kitts and Nevis; outgoing Chairman, Prime Minister Andrew Holness of Jamaica and CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.
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.