Purpose fit solutions needed to close CSME implementation gap, says COTED chair

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Chairman of COTED, Chet Greene, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Immigration of Antigua and Barbuda

GEORGETOWN, Guyana — As Caribbean Community (CARICOM) ministers with responsibility for trade meet in Georgetown, Guyana, calls have been made to ramp up the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

The ministers are in Georgetown for the two-day 46th meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), which opened on Wednesday at the CARICOM Secretariat. The CSME is one of the main agenda items of the meeting.

Speaking at the opening session, chair of the meeting, Chet Greene, minister of foreign affairs, international trade and immigration of Antigua and Barbuda, and Irwin LaRocque, CARICOM secretary-general, both placed emphasis on the CSME and wanted swifter action on its implementation.

“…Article 15 section 2 (b) confers on this Council the responsibility to ‘promote the development and oversee the operations of the CSME’. As a region we are not where we want to be with the implementation of the CSME, and as we consider the sub items on the agenda we must do so in a manner to report and achieve progress going forward. Certainly, the confidence of our people and our businesses within the integration process must not be shattered,” Greene said.

He called on his colleague ministers to contemplate the areas where there was stagnation, and devise and implement “purpose fit solutions to achieve progress, celebrate and showcase the achievements.”

“We must recalibrate where we are with the implementation the Single Market, and the Single Economy, if we are to achieve that desired vision of sustained economic prosperity of our region,” he said.

He recommended the involvement of all Community stakeholders in CSME consultations through all forms of dialogue at national and regional levels. The CSME consultations are scheduled to begin next month.

LaRocque, in his remarks, pointed out that the consultations were being held following a review of the CSME that was completed last year. The review showed that the lack of an effective consultative system at the national and regional levels had negatively affected decision-making and implementation.

He said the consultations would examine the CSME and its implementation and identify the necessary steps to make it more effective and utilised.

“The findings from the consultation are also intended to inform the ongoing review of the CSME by the heads of government, which continues in a special session in July.

“As I have said on several occasions, the success of the CSME will largely be judged on the basis of our full implementation of the measures that allow member states, CARICOM nationals and businesses to benefit,” the secretary-general said.

He reminded the delegates at the meeting that the core function of the COTED was the operation of the CSME, which had been identified as the vehicle for achieving sustainable economic growth and development for the Community. He said it was undoubtedly the primary platform for building international competitiveness and economic resilience of the region.

While he acknowledged the “significant progress” that has been made in advancing the CSME in specific ways, much more remained to be done.

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