The CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) is the Community's best response to the inevitable changes in its traditional markets in Europe, the prevalence of economic liberalisation and the emergence of economic blocs, Outgoing CARICOM Chairman, President of Guyana, His Excellency David Granger said Tuesday evening.
Speaking at the opening of the 38th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM at the Grenada Trade Centre in Grand Anse, the President of Guyana said the CSME is still the best vehicle to allow small states like those of CARICOM to compete in the global economy while promoting economic and social development. CARICOM Heads of Governments, who began the first business session of their two-day meeting on Wednesday, were expected to examine the findings of a comprehensive review of the CSME.
Describing the deepening of economic integration by advancing a single market and economy, as the “most ambitious project attempted by the Community,” President Granger said, “It must not become its most ambiguous.”
“The CSME, especially given the present uncertainties facing the Region's international relations, must be accelerated in order to create a single economic space” he said.
“The Community, with a total land area of 462, 352 km2, is larger than Sweden and, if it were a single country, would be the 56th largest in the world. Size matters...", he stressed. Given the accumulative land, the labour, the talent and the capital the Community possessed, it could guarantee food security for its citizens, the Guyanese Head of State posited. Within this context, he bemoaned the Community's annual food import bill, which he said exceeded US$4B. Noting that such a situation was “a notorious indictment,” the outgoing Chairman said non-tariff barriers continued to constrain trade in food. The need was urgent, therefore to re-examine how it can dismantle the non-tariff barriers to trade in agricultural products while generating employment for citizens,” he said. Emphasising the critical importance of removing barriers to foster more efficient intra-regional trade, he said: “Small internal markets consign states to high dependence on external trade. Intraregional trade, therefore, is important. The Caribbean Common Market was established to ensure markets for regional production, inter alia. Intraregional trade provides a basis for increasing national production, augmenting investment and generating employment. The environment is an inescapable economic reality.” As he reflected on his “semester” as Chairman of the Community, President Granger said current international realities provided ample opportunities for the Community to work together to protect vital interests at the levels of citizen, country and the community. Expressing confidence in the future he said, “With such a clear vision and commitment, CARICOM can confront the future with confidence.” The President of Guyana reminded his colleagues to keep citizens at the centre of the Community and to reject “the odious notion of 'statelessness'.” Providing a nexus between the rights of the citizen and the freedom of movement regime of the CSME, he said that the respect of the right of citizens obliged leaders to “dismantle restrictive immigration practices, which impede free movement.” Referencing the original Treaty of Chaguaramas, he said the Founding Fathers envisioned the strengthening of “bonds among the people of the Caribbean to fulfill aspirations for "…full employment and improved standards of work and living...” He also recalled that the Charter of Civil Society of the Caribbean Community established the respect for every citizen's fundamental human rights, including the right to life, liberty and security of the person. Therefore, he stated: “The perverse notion of a ‘stateless’ person is anathema to the Community’s concept of human dignity. The Community must never cease condemning inhuman treatment meted out to Caribbean citizens in the Dominican Republic or anywhere else.” The Guyanese Head of State said: “The Caribbean, our home, must be secure. It must remain a 'zone of peace' through our unstinting solidarity in defence of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of member states.” At the same time he said that security cooperation, under the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACs) and through international agreements such as the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), which have helped to keep citizens safe, were not sufficient in an age of international terror. Underscoring the importance of advancing the Roadmap for a Single ICT Space, he said it could help the Region to “straddle the 3,200 km2 of sea space, which separates Nassau in the north from Paramaribo in the south, through information and communications technology.”
Secretary General of the Caribbean Community, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, is of the view that the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) is still the most viable way for sustainable development in the Region. He made this disclosure at the Opening Ceremony of the Thirty Eighth Regular Meeting of the CARICOM Conference of Heads of Government on Tuesday evening in Grenada. He said the task now was to ensure the private sector fully utilises its provisions.
“We must move to strengthen the enabling environment to support their efforts. Trade facilitation and the ease of doing business at the regional level are at least equally important as fiscal incentives. We must come to a conclusion on issues such as government procurement, harmonisation of customs rules and regulations and transparent harmonised sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
Citing results from an Inter-American Development Bank study, the CARICOM Secretary-General explained that if the Region addressed challenges associated with regional transportation, inter-regional trade could be doubled. This, he said would have a positive effect on competitiveness and external trade as well as Member States’ ability to attract investment. He also said that a new CARICOM Multilateral Air Services agreement – which will be an item on the Heads’ agenda – could result in reduced freight rates and passenger airfares and increase air transport services, leading to more options for consumers and expanded inter-regional tourism.
Another topic on the agenda for the Heads of Government will be the Human Resource Development 2030 Strategy. Secretary-General LaRocque said the Commission on Human Resource Development would present the Strategy, which will address the development of skills for the 21st century economy and society. He said that the important factor in education and training was providing employable skills, opening the mind to identify opportunities and encouraging the process of lifelong learning. According to him, the plan was to have a globally competitive innovative and seamlessly integrated education system for the Region by 2030.
Ambassador LaRocque also advised that an agreement for the establishment of a Caribbean Community Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, which will be headquartered in Barbados, will be open for signature at the Meeting.
Turning to the matter of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the Secretary-General lamented the fact that the lifestyle and choices being made by the citizens of the Region were causing incidents of NCDs to reach almost epidemic proportions. He noted that while NCDs affected persons individually, there were repercussions that had adverse social and economic effects, regionally. As the Region commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Port-of-Spain Declaration on NCDs, He urged the Heads of Government to reassert their leadership and encourage regional citizens to accept responsibility for their lifestyles and what they consumed, especially since there remained areas of significant concern with regard to risk factors for NCDs, particularly childhood obesity.
Ambassador LaRocque also used his remarks to congratulate Ms. Shirley Pryce who was honoured with the Triennial Award for Women. He said the award recognised an outstanding CARICOM woman who had made a significant contribution to the economic development of the Caribbean.
“Ms. Pryce has earned this award through championing the rights of domestic workers in the region and around the globe. She is a true Ambassador and a global leader who is making a difference in the lives of so many women and marginalised workers! Congratulations Miss Pryce.”
Speaking to the matter of regional security, the Secretary-General said significant progress had been made on regional security instruments since the last meeting of the Conference. This, he said, would add to the arsenal in the battle to secure the Region. He also expressed hope that a CARICOM Arrest Warrant Treaty, which was approved by the Legal Affairs Committee (LAC), would be opened for signature at the Meeting.
In closing, the Secretary General did not miss the opportunity to invite everyone to Barbados for CARIFESTA XIII from 17 August to witness what he called the creative talents of our people and the bedrock of the Region’s creative industries.
“Come and have some fun. Come and celebrate the Caribbean civilisation”, Ambassador LaRocque said.
The Summit will conclude on Thursday 6 July, 2017.
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ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, Tuesday July 4, 2017 – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME) is not getting the credit it deserves for all it achieves, according to the 15-member grouping’s top public servant.
CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque yesterday admitted that the CSME was seen by many as a waste of time, but said this was simply because the people of the region did not know enough about the achievements.
“There are always a few things I can say that we can do better, but I think we are doing not too badly . . . . So we have to do a better job at communication, basically, both from the standpoint of the Secretariat as well as the member states. I regret that people see it as a waste of time. I don’t think it is. Absolutely not,” LaRoque told a news conference in Grenada to announce the agenda for the CARICOM Heads of Government summit which officially starts this evening.
“It is constant communication to the people of the region in terms of what we are doing, what we are achieving and how we are going forward. Sometimes we take for granted what it is that we are doing,” he added.
CARICOM is yet to achieve the second phase of the integration process, which includes harmonized economic policy.
However, LaRocque said at the last summit, the leaders had taken stock of the CSME, and a roadmap was being prepared to help countries that were “lagging behind in certain areas”.
“We are in discussion with them on time frames that need to be adhered to. That does not mean that the rights and obligations that member states have by virtue of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, or by decisions taken, [are] negated,” he said.
The Secretary General said the Georgetown, Guyana-headquartered Secretariat and the member countries have an obligation to inform the general public “what is going on and how they are benefiting from it in terms of functional corporation in a vast number of areas – education, health, our advocacy in the international community”.
LaRocque announced that the leaders’ three-day summit will have a heavy emphasis on tourism, human resource development and entrepreneurship.
Other matters on the packed agenda include crime and security, border issues, health, climate adaptation, renewable energy, and Brexit. (Barbados Today)
The third programme in the live television series, “Chatting CARICOM” was broadcast across the Region on Wednesday 28 June 2017 at 8 pm.
The panel featured the Barbados Ambassador to #CARICOMorg, Mr. Robert Morris and the Officer-in-Charge of the CSME Unit, Ms. Gladys Young.The focus was on the Free Movement of Skills.
The programme is part of the visibility for the projects carried out under the 10th EDF but also gives an update on the work being done by the CARICOM Secretariat.. Please see below for a recording of this broadcast:
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Immigration and Customs Officers took the opportunity this week to discuss CARICOM Single Market and Economy processes at a training workshop. The two-day session in Barbados sought to ensure there was common understanding of the Free Movement of Persons regime. Participants were also involved in training in Customer Service and the Right of Establishment and Provision of Services.
There was representation from all Member States who are significantly participating in the CSME and some officials were engaged on-line. The training took place at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Conference Centre with support from the 10th European Development Fund and ended yesterday 14 June 2017.
In the wrap-up comments, participants commended the timeliness of the activity and the information received. They also highlighted networking and sharing experiences as a useful tool for implementation of obligations within the CSME.
Participants committed to ensuring follow-up activities are implemented within their home state as they engage peers via the development and execution of training. This is expected to assist with maintaining and reinforcing capacity within Member States.