Jamaican students are being urged to see the implementation of a Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) as a bold new frontier, to help develop it and take advantage of the lucrative multi-trillion dollar Americas market it can open up.
The challenge came from Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Dr. Kenneth Baugh, when he met with a group of 25 students from the University of the West Indies (UWI), the University of Technology (UTech) and Northern Caribbean University (NCU), who travelled to Barbados, Grenada and other countries in the region on an official CSME observer mission, at his office on Friday.
Dr. Baugh challenged them to treat the mission as a first step towards building a career in the CSME. He said that there were numerous opportunities to take advantage of, and that the challenges were slowly being overcome.
“I’ve challenged the students to look beyond CARICOM and at other areas, because we want to develop a larger market than CARICOM. We need to look at Latin, Central and South America, some 400-500 million people with a much larger economy. The United States is a $13.3 trillion market and Europe is another $18 trillion. We have to look to penetrate those markets to get our goods and services there,” he told JIS News after the meeting.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Dr. Kenneth Baugh (second right), conversing with members of the student contingent from the University of the West Indies (UWI), the University of Technology (UTech) and Northern Caribbean (NCU) who travelled to Barbados, Grenada and other countries in the region on an official CSME observer mission.
The students’ mission, funded by the European Commission under the theme “Students Engaging the CSME through Field Promotion”, is part of an evaluation process to determine and understand how the CSME is viewed by civil society across the region, as well as to identify opportunities and challenges of the CSME.
A formal report is submitted at the end of the mission. Students from other countries in the region also participated in the exercise, but the Jamaicans were the first to complete theirs and submit a report.
“The report is a very good report from what I’ve seen. They found that in their visits to these islands they overcame the barrier of ignorance that existed, and they pointed to issues, such as transportation, which were fundamental challenges to the progress to be made in CARICOM,” Dr. Baugh told JIS News.
Communications Specialist, CARICOM Secretariat, CSME Unit, Salas Hamilton, who received the report, said he was pleased with the outcome of the experiment, which represents a positive turning point for the CSME’s public education programme.
“To actually take tertiary level students through the CSME, let them do a diagnosis of the laws, regimes and the policies, see what is happening in terms of the movement of goods and capital, how Jamaicans can provide services, what is Grenada doing to facilitate that and when it takes two days to travel that is a critical issue that you cannot learn in a classroom setting,” he pointed out.
Communications Specialist, CARICOM Secretariat, CSME Unit, Salas Hamilton (left) receives the report from Naketa West (right) of the University of the West Indies (UWI) on behalf of fellow students who travelled to Barbados, Grenada and other regional countries on an official mission to observe the workings of the CSME
Head of Section of the delegation of the European Commission (EC) to Jamaica, Helen Jenkinson, explained that the EC was a strong financial and moral supporter of regional integration.
The EC she said has an on-going programme, worth 41 million Euros, to support regional integration and trade. She noted that mobilising students on a mission to the CSME was an excellent avenue to broaden understanding about the CSME, hence the EC’s financial support.