CASTRIES, St Lucia -- Monday marked two years since the independent member countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States commenced operation of the OECS Economic Union; a new development designed to enhance the way of life for people of the region in the long term.
The commencement of the OECS Economic Union followed the historic June 18, 2010, signing of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre. The Revised Treaty, which entered into force on January 21, 2011, creates a single economic and financial space covering participating OECS member states, and sets the stage for deeper OECS integration.
The free movement of people across the member states of the OECS Economic Union commenced on August 1, 2011. It is intended that, within the single financial and economic space, all factors of production -- goods, services, capital and people -- will move without hindrance. This will provide direct benefits to the people of the OECS, by facilitating seamless travel for purposes of gainful employment, setting up business, trading, education, as well as for leisure.
Reviewing the progress of the operationalized OECS Economic Union, head of the OECS Regional Integration Unit, Elma Gene Isaac, said the free movement of people is of fundamental importance to the new regional agenda.
“We have had mixed results but in terms of progress the people can see and feel directly, I would point to the work on free movement of people,” she said.
In addition to the free movement agenda, programmes and policies are being harmonized across the member states of the OECS Economic Union, which can yield further significant benefits to the people in the OECS in areas such as trade, health, education, environment, agriculture, tourism and energy. Work on the preparation of an OECS development strategy, incorporating all of these areas, among others, is well advanced and the development strategy is expected to be finalized by the middle of 2013.
August 10, 2012, marked a further successful outcome, which was the Inauguration of the OECS Assembly, headquartered in Antigua and Barbuda. Through the OECS Assembly, the people of the OECS region have the opportunity for their issues to be discussed and debated publicly in a regional forum.
The primary function of the OECS Assembly is to support the legislative work of the OECS by discussing and reporting to the OECS Authority and the OECS Council of Ministers on legislation proposed for the OECS. The OECS is currently in the process of preparing for meetings of the Assembly, which are scheduled for early 2013.