Opposition Leader Cautions against Jamaica’s Participation in CSME


Suggesting that Jamaica would be in a precarious position if it participated in the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), Opposition Leader, Edward Seaga is cautioning the government not to proceed on that journey.
“Jamaica’s participation in the proposed extension of CARICOM to create the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) would expose the vulnerability of the economy to even greater importation and dislocation of local production without compensating exports,” warned Mr. Seaga.
The Opposition Leader’s comments were made on Thursday (April 22) during his contribution to the 2004/05 Budget Debate at Gordon House.
He also noted that intra-regional trade currently existed at less than 10 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), adding, “it is too small to be a defining strategy for CARICOM development”.
Mr. Seaga also argued that the prospect of the CARICOM market was of even less value to Jamaica’s future development as Jamaica was importing more products from its Caribbean neighbours than it was exporting. Citing evidence of this, he stated that regional trade with Jamaica over the years, since the inception of CARICOM in 1973, had persisted as a low impact economic activity, particularly in exports.
He said that the statistical evidence showed that in 1973, exports from Jamaica to CARICOM were 6.3 per cent of Jamaica’s total exports and 5.2 per cent of total imports.
Meanwhile, by 2001, Jamaica’s exports to the region were at 4.1 per cent and imports to CARICOM at 12.7 per cent. Making a comparison to Barbados’s exports in the region, he said, “in 2001, Barbados though smaller in territorial and economic size than Jamaica, exported US$83 million in goods and services to CARICOM countries; Jamaica exported one-half of that value at US$43 million”.
Exports by Jamaica to all CARICOM countries in 2002, he said were at US$50.6 million, less than the earnings of sugar exports by Jamaica in that year.
“In 30 years of CARICOM trade, Jamaica has moved from being a net exporter in CARICOM to a net importer, a position which has prevailed since 1992 with a widening gap each year,” Mr. Seaga stressed.
He said that Jamaica’s poor performance was due to a low productivity rate of the Jamaican economy in the production of goods and the provision of services.
The Opposition Leader also blamed this on what he said was Jamaica’s “weak education system and unstable macro-economy”. He suggested that to boost productivity, “new policies must correct the dysfunctional education system (medium to long-term) and stabilise the macro-economy (short to medium term)”.
In relation to the country’s participation in CARICOM, he suggested, “in order not to disrupt the existing regional relationship, Jamaica should continue to participate in CARICOM where existing regional cooperation and trade provide regional benefits.
Jamaica, however, should regard the proposed Caribbean Single Market and Economy as a wayward journey and set our course to catch a fresh wind in our sails”.

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