By Caribbean News Now contributor
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — A special two-day meeting of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government in Port of Spain, Trinidad, addressing the rate of implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and making sure its benefits are available for CARICOM nationals, wrapped up on Tuesday with the issue of a new declaration – the St Ann’s Declaration on CSME.
At the meeting, CARICOM chairman, Prime Minister Andrew Holness of Jamaica, urged the “head on” tackling of complex issues.
“The issues slated for discussion at this special meeting of the conference are of varying complexity,” Holness noted.
“Some will no doubt evoke different, even conflicting views but we must confront them. We must also tackle ‘head on’ the imperatives if we are to make this important regional integration process deliver on its promise,” he urged.
CARICOM heads of government were also challenged to move the CSME forward by the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Keith Rowley.
Speaking at the start of the meeting, the host prime minster posed the question, “if not now, when; if not us, who?”
One item on the agenda was an engagement between the CARICOM heads of government and representatives from the regional private and labour sectors. This encounter was the brainchild of the lead head of government for the CSME in the CARICOM quasi-cabinet, Mia Mottley, prime minister of Barbados.
St Ann’s Declaration on CSME
WE, the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), meeting at Port of Spain Trinidad and Tobago 3-4 December, 2018 on the occasion of the 18th Special Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM;
Recalling the 1989 Declaration of Grand Anse which initiated the process towards the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), the signing of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas in 2001, which established the CSME and the launch of the CSME in 2006;
Convinced that the CSME continues to be the most viable platform for supporting growth and development in the Member States of CARICOM;
Recognising the need to make it more closely attuned to the needs and priorities of Member States and contributing more visibly to growth and development and to the welfare of the people of the Community;
Having reviewed its progress and acknowledged that it should have been further advanced;
Having considered the “Report of the Commission to Review Jamaica’s Relations within the CARICOM and CARIFORUM Frameworks”;
Having also considered the perspectives of the Member States of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS);
Underscoring the critical role of the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) in supporting the CSME;
Having exchanged views with the representatives of the private sector and labour and encouraged by their commitment to the regional integration project and their recommendations for the enhancement of the CSME;
Recognising that the goal of our regional integration process is to enhance the well-being of all of the citizens of our Community;
We are committed to take action at the national level to advance the regional integration agenda;
We are determined to ensure the equitable distribution among the peoples of the Community of the gains realised through the regional integration process;
We have agreed on a formalised, structured mechanism to facilitate dialogue between the Councils of the Community and the private sector and labour;
We have also agreed to amend the Treaty to include as Associate Institutions representative bodies of Private Sector and Labour;
We have agreed that in accordance with Article 50 of the Revised Treaty which deals with the principle of accelerated implementation, that the principle will be applied to any initiative which is consistent with the Revised Treaty;
We agreed that that those Member States so willing would move towards full free movement within the next three (3) years;
We have mandated that steps be taken to deepen cooperation and collaboration between the Secretariats of CARICOM and the OECS to avoid duplication and maximise the utility of scarce resources;
We will reinforce the operation of our security mechanisms to ensure the integrity of the regime allowing the free movement of CARICOM nationals;
We will examine the re-introduction of the single domestic space for passengers in the Region;
We have agreed to work towards having a single security check for direct transit passengers on multi-stop intra-Community flights;
We will conduct a special session on Air and Maritime Transportation at the Intersessional meeting of the Conference in February 2019 to focus on this critical aspect of integration as a whole and the CSME in particular;
We will include Agricultural Workers, Beauty Service Practitioners, Barbers and Security Guards to the agreed categories of skilled nationals who are entitled to move freely and seek employment within the Community;
We reiterate that that a skills certificate issued by one Member State would be recognised by all Member States;
We will complete legislative and other arrangements in all Member States for all categories of Free Movement of Skilled Persons;
We will finalise the regime that permits citizens and companies of the Community to participate in the Public Procurement processes in Member States by the year 2019;
We will take all necessary steps to allow for mutual recognition of companies incorporated in a CARICOM Member State;
We have mandated the Community Council to develop appropriate recommendations on the proposal for the introduction of a regime of sanctions for the consideration of the Conference;
We welcome Haiti’s commitment to full integration into the CSME by 2020;
We have appointed Professor Avinash Persaud to lead a restructured Commission on the Economy to advise Member States on a Growth Agenda for the Community.
Other Members of the Commission on the Economy (CCE) –
Mr. Chester Humphrey
Dr. Damien King
Mr Georgy McGuire
Mr Roger McLean
Dr. Wendell Samuel
Mr. P. B. Scott
Ms. Therese Turner-Jones
Ms. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Mr. Pascal Lamy