JIS News

Prime Minister P. J. Patterson has said that Jamaica was firmly committed to the integration process, and had taken the legislative and administrative steps to ensure that the country’s obligations under the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) were met in full and on time.
Mr. Patterson pointed out that the Caribbean Single Market would be launched in January by three member countries – Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. He explained that the delay by other territories to join before year-end of 2006 was caused by challenges of limited capacity and setbacks resulting from recent disasters.
Addressing the 28th annual Conference of the Caribbean/Latin America yesterday (December 7), at the Miami Intercontinental Hotel in Miami, the Prime Minister said that at the October special meeting of Heads of Government in Trinidad, the year 2005 was declared the Year of the CSME.
Mr. Patterson said that as new and powerful blocs were emerging in Europe, Asia and this region, “this leaves us no option but to make the necessary adjustments to ensure our competitiveness and indeed our very survival”.
He said that the CSME was being pursued with increasing urgency, with a view to enhancing the development potential of all CARICOM territories with specific consideration given to nationals and their prospects for a better quality of life, “united in a single economic space”.
The Prime Minister stressed that when finally consummated, the CSME would represent the most complete form of economic integration between sovereign nations, “second only to the European Union”.
Mr. Patterson also cited the range of human resources available throughout the region, unmatched by any economic entity of similar size in any other part of the world. This, he said was also demonstrated in the region’s people to compete internationally in various fields.
He said the new challenges would be met with “accustomed confidence and resilience”, and that this was an opportunity to unleash the potential for entrepreneurial spirit that was inherent in the Caribbean people.
Regarding integration and external trade, Mr. Patterson said the single market would provide for more effective negotiations and the structuring of trade and economic ties with third countries.
He added that it would also provide for the free movement of capital, goods and services and people, for the establishment of a common trade and economic policy in dealing with the rest of the world. Also, this would create significant new opportunities for investment, business and trade, the Prime Minister noted.
Turning to CARICOM, the Prime Minister emphasized that the future of the Caribbean was in the strengthening of the economies, and it was vital to have a coherent and organized response to develop negotiating positions for the member countries of CARICOM. “We are faced with the dilemma of participating in negotiations on the same terms as larger economies, despite our limitations in human and financial resources,” he noted.
Negotiating as a group, CARICOM provided a vehicle for advancing common goals and interests of member countries, Mr. Patterson said, and would overcome some of the challenges of small economies by pooling resources and building alliances. Recognising the interests of the smaller economies of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the Prime Minister indicated that the 34 nations involved in this process were of different economic strengths, and it was expected that the FTAA process would engender fair trade rules that would take into full account the sizes and strengths of countries, including the levels of development, and their vulnerability to external shocks and natural disasters.
Mr. Patterson said that smaller economies should be allowed to adjust and adopt the appropriate measures, which would facilitate their integration into the hemispheric trading system.
Speaking to the relevance of the theme of the three-day event titled, ‘An Integrated Third Border’, Mr. Patterson said that the effects of the post 9/11 era demanded the strengthening and securing of the third border through integration, hence the steps to advance Caribbean regionalism and sharpening the prospects for advancing Caribbean/US relations, while coping with the rapid pace of globalization.
Some 600 conference delegates are participating in forums on issues relevant to the area, such as immigration, economic development, security, customs, health, telecommunications, the environment, labour and disaster preparedness.

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