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Prime Minister of Barbados, Owen Arthur, has said that the region must come to a decision regarding arrangements with its traditional economic allies and trading partners, before the full implementation of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) in 2008.
“We have to put in place a new relationship with Europe beginning the first of January 2008. Our relationship with the United States of America is in a position of uncertainty,” he said, adding that the region’s relationship with the global economy, through its participation in the World Trade Organization (WTO), would also have to be clearly defined by next year.
“The Caribbean cannot ask the rest of the world to stop and let us get off. We have to, on our own part and on our own initiative, define how we want to participate with the rest of the world,” Prime Minister Arthur said, as he addressed the joint meeting of the CARICOM Prime Ministerial sub-committee on external trade negotiations and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) today (Feb. 5) at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay.
The Barbadian Prime Minister, who along with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller are co-chairs of the two-day meeting, said that the joint committee would be considering a paper, which sets out a holistic vision as to how the region should be developed, and the framework that should be adopted for the CSME.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Simpson Miller, in her address, noted that the conference would provide a practical demonstration of the “capacity and flexibility of the institutional structures to adapt in the effort to achieve a common regional goal”.
She noted that the meeting had one agenda, which was to identify the best way to achieve and sustain progress for the Caribbean people.
“We are a small region of small countries, blessed with people of great ambitions and big hearts. Our people have always recognized the need to embrace the wider world to our advantage. In order to do that, we need to have shared goals,” she stated.
According to Mrs. Simpson Miller, the sub-committee on external negotiations had a responsibility to ensure that the region had the most receptive and fair international environment in which to implement its shared vision and to compete.
“It is the access to and the effective use of our collective resources, which will make us internationally competitive as a region,” she stated.
CARICOM Secretary General, Edwin Carrington, in his address, noted that the joint meeting was a “visionary initiative most worthy of endorsement and support by all sectors and stakeholders within the Caribbean community”. The two-day conference will consider a report emanating from a meeting of the Caribbean Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) and the CARIFORUM ministerial meeting on strategic issues in external negotiations, which took place on the weekend, among other single market and regional integration issues.