The formal launch of the CARICOM Single Market will take place in Kingston on Monday, January 30th 2006, at the University of the West Indies , Mona campus, signaling a new beginning for CARICOM countries as the region seeks to create a shared market space to secure its survival within the global sphere.
CARICOM Secretary- General, Edwin Carrington describes 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. Mr. Carrington noted that the Single Market would “transform” safeguard and advance the future of our region and its people in its globalised world”.
On January 1, 2006, Barbados , Belize , Guyana , Jamaica , Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago became the first CARICOM countries to enter into the Single Market. The remaining member states are expected to join by the end of the first quarter of this year.
Next Monday in Jamaica in a ceremony to be carried live via television across the region, the six member states already in the single market will sign a declaration formalizing their entry while six other member states, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadine will sign another declaration stating their attention 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.
While acknowledging that there would be challenges along the way, the secretary General expressed optimism over the positive future the Single Market held for the region, including the likelihood of the Caribbean Diaspora returning to utilize their skills and the retention of the university graduates within the region.
General Counsel of the CARICOM secretariat, Dr. Winston Anderson pointed out that the Revised Treaty defined the legal framework within which nationals of the single Market participating countries must operate, including the right rights of establishment under which entrepreneurs might acquire land, not for speculation, but exclusively for the establishment of their businesses. “There are significant safeguards provided for in our Treaty arrangements, which would make sure that complying with this obligation does not cause any difficulty or problem in our OECS member states,” he said.
CARICOM’s Assistant Secretary-General for Human and Social Development, Dr. Edward Greene alluded to the 2001 Nassau Declaration by CARICOM Heads of government, which declared that the health of the region was the wealth of the region. He said that declaration underscored the significant which heads of government attached to the region’s health and development within the context of the Single Market. Dr. Greene viewed the free movement of goods, services, capital and persons as an opportunity for CARICOM nationals “to make the Caribbean one market that would work for individuals irrespective of their country of origin.”
President of the Caribbean Congress of Labour, Lincoln Lewis viewed the Single Market as “a process of attacking poverty in the Caribbean,” which he noted required regional participation from both a political and cultural position. “We believe that where there is trade there must be an economy to sustain that trade,” he added.