GEORGETOWN, Guyana — Even as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) continues to examine the issue of an enlargement policy, heads of government have mandated the secretary-general to begin negotiations for associate membership by the Dutch territories of Curacao and St Maarten.
During their 29th inter-sessional meeting in Haiti, last week, the heads of government agreed that the Community will proceed, in the first instance, with those two applications. They said further consideration would be given to the applications from the French Overseas territories of Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana.
The mandated to Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque is to start talks with Curacao and St Maarten to better determine their expectations of associate membership as well as what benefits this relationship could yield for the Community.
Their decisions were recorded in the communiqué issued following the conclusion of the two-day meeting in Port-au-Prince.
Also in the context of CARICOM’s foreign policy coordination, heads of government reflected on the impact of some member states’ inclusion in the list of ‘non-cooperative tax jurisdictions’ published by the European Union Council in December 2017, as well as other unilateral processes which label them as tax havens.
Deploring the “significant reputational damage” they have inflicted on member states, heads of government reiterated that these actions occurred “outside of the established global inclusive processes which CARICOM states have endorsed and in which they continue to participate, often at significant cost, to advance the implementation of agreed international standards domestically.”
They recognised the need for member states to continue to ensure that they meet all requisite standards set by the globally recognised authorities in respect of global tax co-operation and related initiatives. However, they denounced the unilateral processes underway in the European Union as detrimental to member states’ economic progress and efforts to achieve sustainable development. They agreed that they should forge links beyond CARICOM because of shifting global standards.
Heads of government also mandated that ministers of finance and central bank governors meet expeditiously to consider proposals on a CARICOM strategy that have been prepared by a CARICOM technical working group and to formulate appropriate solutions to overcome this egregious challenge.
Heads of government also acknowledged the importance of regional advocacy efforts and agreed to continue engaging international partners and raising the issues at various international fora.