JIS News

The CARICOM Single Market (CSM) is a grouping of sovereign states that provides freedom for companies to establish businesses throughout the Community. However, as in any free trade area, there are some rules of procedure.
Aside from not levying import duties on goods originating from Member States and removing all tariffs and further restrictions from CARICOM goods, business in the single market should also conform to regional standards of production.
So far, 50 standards have been set for products by the CARICOM established Caribbean Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), Private Sector Consultant at the regional CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) unit of the CARICOM Secretariat, Leela Narinesingh has pointed out.
Mrs. Narinesingh was speaking recently to JIS News and representatives from almost 200 Jamaican private sector companies at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.
The Right of Establishment
Another area in which CARICOM officials engineering the single market demand co-operation is that of land and property accessibility. “Member States must ensure that service providers, architects, engineers, and others from other Member States have access to land, buildings and other properties on a non-discriminatory basis,” said Mrs. Narinesingh.
The Right to which the private sector consultant refers is that of Establishment. “The Right of Establishment requires the removal of restrictions against individuals and legal entities involved in the production of goods and the provision of services and capital,” Mrs. Narinesingh explained.
In addition to land, buildings and other properties, the Right of Establishment includes the right to transfer managerial, technical and supervisory staff.
In other words, this Right is also linked with the Free Movement of Skills/Labour clause of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
Mrs. Narinesingh also pointed out that the Right of Establishment “must be done under the Company Law of Member States, which in the Jamaican case is the Companies Act, and other such laws as the Business Names Act and the Financial Institutions Act”.
As she highlighted, harmonisation steps regarding these laws are being pursued by Member States. “There have already been two meetings of the Registrar of Companies within the Community, in which an agreement on the governing principles of the Right of Establishment within the CSME have been reached,” she pointed out.
Another area of agreement between the CARICOM Registrars has been the creation of a list of minimum registration requirements.
All this will affect the Alien Land Act, which currently exists in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) – Grenada. Under the Alien Land Act, companies foreign to the country, wishing to establish business there have to seek legal permission to access land.
However, as was announced at the January 30 symbolic signing of the CSM at University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, the OECS countries will not sign on to the CSM until the end of the second quarter. This would mean that they have until then to achieve compliance in this regard.
The National Treatment Clause under the Revised Treaty can also be seen as another conjunction to the Right of Establishment Act. National Treatment simply means that CARICOM nationals in host Member States should be given similar privileges as those given to natives of those states.
Competition Commission & Investment Policy Framework
The Community Competition Commission is also another body provided for under the Revised Treaty. “This Commission was established under Article 171 of the Revised Treaty. However, it is not yet in operation,” Mrs. Narinesingh informed.
Although the Commission is not yet in operation, Suriname was designated its headquarters state in 2004 and in April 2005, the first meeting of the Competition Policy officials was held and a subsequent recommendation paper was presented to the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED).
CARICOM is also in the process of developing a regional investment policy framework, which will include, a CARICOM Investment Code; a harmonised investment incentive regime; a streamlined approval process; and the implementation of national investment policy reforms.
Nationals of CARICOM who wish to work in Member States should be reminded that social security benefits will be transferred to the home country upon completion of work tenure.
“The agreement for the Transfer of Social Security benefits is in place in all Member States except Suriname, which does not have a comparable social security system and so cannot implement the agreement,” Mrs. Narinesingh explained.