Chairman of CARICOM, President David Granger addresses the opening ceremony of the meeting
GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) must expedite the full implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
This was the charge president of Guyana, David Granger, issued to heads of government and delegates at the opening of the twenty-eighth intersessional meeting of the conference of heads of government of CARICOM in Georgetown Guyana on Thursday morning.
“Economic cooperation is a fundamental pillar of our Community. The Caribbean, if it is to escape the hazard of economic emasculation in today’s global environment, must expedite the full implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). We face threats that include dampened demand for our goods and services and distortions in our financial sectors caused by de-risking by international banks,” he said.
The CSME, a regional flagship programme, is one of the main agenda items of the two-day intersessional meeting. The CSME is considered the best vehicle to promote economic development and integration and, last July, CARICOM heads of government had requested a review of the programme. That review will be considered by the heads during the intersessional.
Significant progress had been made in the CARICOM Single Market, especially its legal and administrative framework, but more needed to be done with respect to the Single Economy.
“The CSME has the potential to enhance private sector growth and competitiveness by providing access to a larger pool of resources, facilitating the movement of human capital, catalysing the establishment of regional businesses and encouraging the free movement of goods. The CSME must not be allowed to become a victim of equivocation and procrastination,” Granger warned.
CARICOM secretary-general, Irwin LaRocque, in his address to the opening ceremony, also focused on the CSME, pointing out that it was timely for the meeting to consider a comprehensive review of the programme.
“Ideally, a review of the CSME must not only be about what has been done, or not done, and what might have been the constraining factors; it should also be about the impact and how it has measured up to intent and expectations, and therefore how the shortcomings might be addressed,” the secretary-general said.
As CARICOM heads of government continue to pursue the course for sustained economic development, LaRocque said it demands working collectively and pooling resources.
He said a cohesive response was needed to address the three broad areas the Conference addresses – economic development, crime and security and international relations.
Crime and security, prioritised on the agenda, are national and regional issues, the secretary-general said, underscoring the need for more efficiency in systems concerned with finalising “critical legal instruments” to respond to security issues.
“The people of the Caribbean are looking to us to provide them with a safe Community and one which provides opportunity for social and economic progress,” he told the heads of governments.
“Winning the battle for a safe and secure society brings with it more opportunity for economic growth and development. It will also provide a boost for one of our major economic sectors, tourism. This sector is one of the prime drivers of economic growth, attracting major investments, creating jobs and boosting the creative industries, among others.”
The secretary-general, in his call for a collective response to challenges the Community faced, said it was imperative, in the changing and unpredictable global environment, for the Community to consolidate its co-ordination of foreign policy and refine its strategies to safeguard and advance its interests.
“Recent developments in our hemisphere and in Europe have caused a certain amount of global uncertainty and could herald further shifts in the international balance of power. Some of our traditional partners are at the centre of these developments. In evaluating the circumstances, we must consider such longstanding arrangements as the Cotonou Partnership Agreement and the future of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP),” he told CARICOM heads of governments.
LaRocque in his remarks to the Conference extended special welcome to Jovenel Moise, president of Haiti who is attending his first meeting.
“Mr President, your clear-cut victory in the first round of elections, was an indication of the confidence that your people have in your ability to lead them to a better life. I look forward to working closely with you and your administration towards Haiti’s further integration into CARICOM,” LaRocque told the Haitian president.