Tuesday, January 31, 2006


CARICOM Single Market Ceremony Held in Jamaica

CARICOM member states Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago formally signed the document for implementation of the CARICOM Single Market (CSM) on Monday January 30, in a move towards greater regional unity. Although the CSM formally began on January 1 with the six member countries, it is expected to become the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) by 2008. The ceremony, which was held at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies, did not see the ratification of CSM by the seven-member sub-group, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

While the OECS had originally planned to enter the single market by March 31, it was announced that they would now sign on by the end of June. Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and current Chair of the OECS, Ralph Gonsalves, said: "The OECS has taken the principled position that, while we are fully committed to the process of regional integration, and intend to be fully participants in the CSME, we must ensure that the provisions of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas which speaks to our own special needs are in effect."

The region is expected to finalize the single market and economy (CSME) by the year 2008. To this effect Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and current CARICOM Chair, Patrick Manning explained: "It is absolutely necessary to co-ordinate and harmonize, inter alia, our economic policies, interest rates, laws and tax regimes in order to create more even development across member states; enter more effectively and smoothly into trading arrangements and economic links with other countries and regional groupings; and ensure that our region improves its attractiveness for the increased inflows of new capital for the development of all our nations."

According to CARICOM data for most of the decade of the nineties, CARICOM intra-regional imports as a percentage of the region's total imports accounted only for between 8 and 10 per cent, while intra-regional exports accounted for between 12 and 23 per cent of the region's total exports.

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