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CARICOM Leaders Call For Frank Discussions On CSME

There were calls for practicality, deep analysis and actual resolution of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) at the first round of regional consultations on its implementation.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is facilitating the discussions among state and non-state stakeholders on the challenges, priorities and how to move forward with the implementation of the CSME. The two-day meeting is being held at the Ramada Princess Hotel, East Bank Demerara.

Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, said it is time CARICOM took a more practical approach when it comes to the CSME.

PM Gonsalves does not believe the Community can achieve the single economy given the disparity in the economies of member states. However, he noted, much can be done to advance the single market concept.

“There are lots more we can do in respect of the other three areas of the integration movement that is to say: functional cooperation in respect of health, education, human resources development generally…,” Prime Minister Gonsalves added.

The St Vincentian leader outlined a number of “practical things” that CARICOM should focus on. These include amending the Treaty of Chaguaramas to accommodate the Economic Union of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), operational strengthening of Chapter Seven of the Treaty which addresses to better protect the interests of disadvantaged countries, regions and sectors, among a seven-point list.

“We have to accept that the way globalisation has proceeded that CARICOM is going to be an overarching integrated mechanism … a variable geometry of integration”, PM Gonsalves envisioned.

Former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding admitted that the Community is further away from the CSME that was initially envisioned some 30 years ago when the ‘Grand Anse Declaration’ was adopted.

However, Golding who led a revision committee on the CSME, said a deeper analysis of the CSME is needed. “It seems to me that some member states are of the view that the CSME in its full implementation is likely to do them more harm than good it’s an issue that we have to confront,” he said.

Golding added there need to be frank discussions on the usefulness of the CSME, “bereft of finger pointing and blame game. The CARICOM Secretariat must not be the scapegoat for CARICOM’s failure.”

The economic environment has changed since the inception of the CSME. It is for this reason CARICOM needs a CSME Golding pointed out. “I believe that it could provide the countries of the region with a better chance to contend with the ferociousness of the global market,” he said.

Golding cautioned however that the impact of CSME, in its full implementation, needs to be carefully analysed to identify benefits, opportunities, risks and the downsides in each member state.

Secretary-General of CARICOM, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, noted that failure to make a decision on the CSME has regional implications. “We need to move the agenda along faster. The time it takes to get things done is a cost to the private sector and it’s a cost in terms of the credibility to the community at large,” he said.

By: Tiffny Rhodius.

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