JIS News

CARICOM Secretary General, Dr. Edwin Carrington, has said that the Community would be focused on deepening South/South relations as part of the strategy towards promoting sustainable development.
He made this statement in his CARICOM year-in-review broadcast in Kingston on Tuesday (Dec.13).
Local and regional trade experts agree that deeper South/South co-operation and integration is the only way to cope with the fallouts affecting developing states in the world trade system under globalisation.
January 23, 2006 is seen as a forward step in the process of deepening South/South co-operation as this date will herald in the CARICOM Single Market (CSM), with Jamaica and her 14 CARICOM partners signing the official documents in Kingston.
The CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), which has a 2008 implementation date, seeks to go even further, in that it will establish a single economy. For the achievement of this goal, CARICOM has earmarked US$70 million to be used over a 10-year period.
Acting Assistant Director of the Foreign Trade Unit in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Esmond Reid, sees the implementation of the CSM as an example of South-South integration, which will help to cushion the shocks of drastic market liberalisation.
In furtherance of this goal, Mr. Reid disclosed to JIS News, that CARICOM, through its Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), was in initial discussions with MERCOSUR, the Latin American regional trade bloc, which is the fourth largest in the world. “We are in the early discussion stage with MERCOSUR.which constitutes Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay,” said Mr. Reid.
Founded in 1991, but officially inaugurated in 1995, MERCOSUR is a free trade area and customs union whose associate member states include Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and Ecuador.
It has a combined population of more than US$190 million and a Gross National Product (GNP) of some US$800 billion.
The negotiations with MERCOSUR are in an embryonic stage, having started just this year in Trinidad. COTED has not yet begun deeper discussions regarding necessary compliance measures among other integration issues.
However, Mr. Reid says that a good CARICOM partnership with MERCOSUR would be a step toward “building and strengthening South/South alliances”.
Another probable benefit of such an alliance would be improved trade relations with the European Union (EU), which is MERCOSUR’s leading trading partner, investor and development aid donor.
Relatedly, Peter Jones, Executive Director of the Economic Development Institute and author of the digital book Jamaica 2030: A Strategy for Developed Country Status, is of the view that some of CARICOM’s development answers lie in deeper South/South integration.
“For us to be successful, we need more development in South/South trade and further integration,” noted Mr. Jones.
Jamaica’s recent PetroCaribe arrangement with Venezuela and collaborations with Brazil in alternatives to sugar such as the ethanol plant, are but early examples of deliberate attempts to deepen and widen South/South cooperation.