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Today, 1st January 2006 the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) takes one of its most significant steps in the process of regional integration, as the CARICOM Single Market becomes a reality. It is my privilege and honour that on this historic day I assume the chairmanship of the Caribbean Community until 30 June 2006 during which time Trinidad and Tobago will host the 17th Intersessional Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Community on the 9th and 10th of February.
Today, the Single Market component of the CSME comes into force, involving Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. These States by virtue of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, decisions of the Conference of Heads of Government, and agreements by their Governments, will have put in place the necessary arrangements for the operation of the CARICOM Single Market.
The other CARICOM Member States, save The Bahamas and Haiti which have not signified their intention to participate in the CSME process and Montserrat – a British Dependency, which is awaiting the necessary instrument of entrustment from the United Kingdom Government, have indicated that they expect/intend to be on board by the end of the first quarter of 2006.
With the advent of the Single Market, which was first mooted in the Grand Anse Declaration adopted by CARICOM Heads of Government at their 1989 meeting in Grenada, restrictions on provision of services, free movement of capital and of approved categories of skilled CARICOM nationals, are removed among all Member States participating in the Single Market arrangements.
The categories of skilled CARICOM nationals include – University Graduates, Media Workers, Musicians, Artistes and Sports Persons. These nationals are now entitled, in keeping with the appropriate procedures, to seek employment in any of the participating Member States.
Further, CARICOM nationals now have the right to establish businesses, provide services and move capital in any Member State of the Community under the same terms and conditions granted to the nationals of that country.
These provisions plus the enactment of the required laws into domestic legislation form the basic elements of the Single Market as provided for under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas including the Single Market and Economy. This Treaty which was signed by CARICOM Heads of Government in 2002 replaces the original 1973 Treaty of Chaguaramas, which provided only for the free movement of goods.
With the Single Market now in force, work continues with a view to bringing into being the CARICOM Single Economy by 2008.
CARICOM Heads of Government will be holding an official ceremony in Jamaica in January 2006 to mark the historic milestone of the establishment of the CARICOM Single Market.