CARICOM Heads of Government will converge in Jamaica today (Jan. 30) for the symbolic signing of the Single Market aspect of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). The historic ceremony will be held on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies, which is one of the earliest symbols of regional integration. CARICOM Secretary General, Dr. Edwin Carrington, will oversee the function, which will be carried live via television across the region.
Jamaica, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Suriname and Guyana, the six member countries that have already completed the process to bring the Single Market into effect, will sign a declaration formalizing their entry, while six other members states namely, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, will sign another declaration, stating their intention to join by the end of March. With respect to the three other member states, the Bahamas is not yet a part of the Single Market arrangement, while Montserrat, a British dependency, awaits the necessary instrument of entrustment from the United Kingdom in order to participate. Haiti has not completed its accession to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and is therefore not a participant in the Single Market.
In addition to Prime Minister P. J. Patterson, already confirmed to attend Monday’s ceremony are: Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer; Prime Minister of Barbados, Owen Arthur; Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit; Prime Minister of Guyana, Samuel Hinds; Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Denzil Douglas; Prime Minister of St. Lucia, Dr. Kenny Anthony; Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves; Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister, Patrick Manning and President of Suriname, Runaldo Ronald Venetiaan.Foreign Ministers Fred Mitchell and Elvin Nimrod will represent Bahamas and Grenada respectively, while government minister Jose Coye, will represent Belize. Director General of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Dr. Len Ishmael, and Caribbean Court of Justice President, Justice de la Bastide, will also be in attendance.
Dr. Carrington has described the launch of the Single Market as an historic and unprecedented step in the regional integration process, and a new dimension that will change the way the people of the region live and work. He noted further that the Single Market would “transform, safeguard and advance the future of our region and its people in its globalised world”.
The inauguration of the CARICOM Single Market came out of the 1989 meeting of Heads in Grand Anse, Grenada, where the decision was made to further deepen the integration process by establishing the CSME. The aim was to create a single economic space where people, goods, services and capital can move freely. In order to achieve the CSME, the Treaty of Chaguaramas had to be revisited and the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas was signed in 2002.
As part of the arrangement, each CARICOM member state has been given a specific area of focus with Guyana having responsibility for agriculture; St. Lucia justice and governance; St. Kitts and Nevis health; Jamaica has external trade relations negotiations, with Prime Minister Patterson being the CARICOM spokesperson for the Free Trade Area of the Americas; Trinidad and Tobago has security; Belize has responsibility for sustainable development, which includes environmental concerns; Antigua and Barbuda has responsibility for services, and Barbados has lead responsibility for the CSME. The final cap will be put on this historic regional economic integration process when the CSME is implemented in 2008.