JIS News

A draft document, highlighting the need for strong governance within the Caribbean and which provides clear-cut instructions for the Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM) to continue its work with the European and North American trading partners, will be forwarded to the CARICOM Heads of government for consideration and adoption.
An endorsement for a conference on the Caribbean, which is slated to take place in Washington in June, is also included in the document, which emanated from the joint meeting of the CARICOM Prime Ministerial sub-committee on external negotiations and the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), which concluded yesterday (Feb. 6) in Montego Bay.
At a post meeting press conference held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, said that the two-day conference, which was held against the background of continued progress toward a single market and economy, explored a range of issues of common concern to all CARICOM member states.
“The joint meeting instructed our negotiators to continue negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union, with a view to completing a progressive agreement in support of our development within the agreed timeframe, and to continue detailed work on enhanced relations with our traditional North American partners,” she stated.
“We . commend the document for consideration and adoption by the heads at our opening inter-sessional meeting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” she added. The meeting will take place next week.
Mrs. Simpson Miller, who along with Barbadian Prime Minister, Owen Arthur co-chair of the conference, also mentioned that negotiations would continue with the Dominican Republic with respect to a CARICOM/Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement.
According to the Prime Minister, the joint sub-committee meeting, which was held against the backdrop of the bicentennial anniversary of the abolition of slavery, indicated a unified and strong determination to eliminate poverty in the region within the shortest possible time, and to provide an improved quality of life for all.
She said that based on the success of this inaugural joint sub-committee conference, she has suggested that other meetings to be held until the CSME becomes fully functional.
Turning to the endorsement of the Caribbean conference to take place in Washington, Prime Minister Simpson-Miller outlined that the conference would allow for collective interface with the Caribbean Diaspora. The meeting is expected to bring together Caribbean and United States (US) leaders, the private sector and non-government organizations, to focus attention on Caribbean/US relations, in particular trade, investment, security and social development.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Arthur said that the region was on track for the implementation of the single economy in 2008.
He noted that the process to establish a single economy involving 15 different countries was a complex one and the volume of work involved was not readily appreciated by all the people of the region. “The single economy will never appear in one place as a finished product, it will continue to evolve long after we have put the framework for it in place,” he pointed out.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Arthur indicated that the framework for the implementation of the single economy was encapsulated in a report by University of the West Indies Professor Norman Girvan entitled: ‘Towards a single economy and a single development vision.’
The two-day meeting, he said, had an in-depth look at the report and identified a few areas in which additional work needed to be done.
“We recognize that in a single economy, we have to ask the question, what kind of society we want to create in the Caribbean, and therefore the single development vision is not just an economic vision for the Caribbean but it recognizes that there must be a social dimension, an environmental dimension and a governance dimension,” he pointed out.
The Barbadian Prime Minister noted that in the report, which was put together in collaboration with the CARICOM Secretariat and a special taskforce on the single economy, “we have these things set out, agreed to by the governments, the private sector and the labour movements, and on their way to the heads of government for formal ratification”.

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