recent weeks, the CARICOM Single Market and Economy
(CSME), and more specifically the CARICOM Single Market
(CSM), which was launched in January 2006, has received
considerable public attention.
While the single market and economy is not to be seen
as a panacea for the region’s challenges in
the current market arena, the CSME when fully implemented
by December 31, 2008 will offer a protective hedge
against the full force of the global market winds.
The free movement of capital, goods, services and
skills/labour and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)
are two planks of the on-going CSME discourse.
On Monday, January 30, at the Mona Visitors’
Lodge at the University of the West Indies, six countries
signed a declaration recognising the existence of
the CSM. They were Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados,
Guyana, Belize, Suriname and Jamaica. In addition,
six Member States of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean
States (OECS) signed a declaration of intent and announced
that they should be ready to join the CSM by the end
of June this year. These states are: Antigua and Barbuda,
Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia
and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Bahamas, Haiti and Montserrat are the other three
CARICOM member states that complete the 15-member
Community and have not yet signed on to the CSM.
Speaking with JIS News, Ivor Carryl, Programme Manager
of the CSME Regional Unit in Barbados, explains that
the Community’s single market and economy would
operate as “a unit of sovereign states, not
as a single union as the European Union.” This
insistence on sovereignty is part of the Treaty of
Chaguaramas, which birthed CARICOM.
“The EU model has centralised political institutions
such as the European Commission and the European Parliament,
but CARICOM is maintaining sovereignty,” clarifies
However, he said that although there is no intended
political integration, it is advisable that the Community’s
Finance Ministers constituting the Council for Finance
and Planning (COFAP), consider CARICOM Member States
when designing and implementing their respective country’s
macro economic policies.
Member State Portfolios
Whilst the CSM will maintain individual state sovereignty,
Member States will have specific portfolio assignments.
Barbados’ portfolio, for example, is the CSME,
including the Monetary Union, while Antigua and Barbuda
is responsible for Services, including Information
Technology and Telecommunications. For Belize, it
is Sustainable Development, including Environment
and Disaster Management and Water, while Dominica
is responsible for Labour, including Intra-Community
Movement of Skills.
Grenada has the portfolio of Science and Technology;
Guyana, Agriculture and Food Security; Jamaica, External
Trade Negotiations; St. Kitts and Nevis, Health, including
HIV/AIDS and Human Resource Development; St. Lucia,
Justice and Governance; and St. Vincent and the Grenadines,
Bananas and Air Transport.
For Suriname, its portfolio responsibility is that
of Community Development and Cultural Co-operation,
including Culture, Gender, Youth and Sport, and Trinidad
and Tobago has Security as this relates to Drugs and
Illicit Arms, and Energy.
Geography and Areas of Economic Strengths
Often described as one of the most politically stable
regions of the world, the Caribbean area is also located
between the North American and South American markets.
With the exception of Suriname, which has a civil
law tradition, all the Member States that will be
signed on to the CSM by the end of June this year,
Aside from regional political stability and prime
location, the Caribbean countries participating in
the CSM and CSME also have a mix of resources, services
and general market strengths to trade among each other.
These include: tourism, oil and natural gas, bauxite,
marine resources and fertile agricultural land.
tourism seems to be the strength shared by all, Antigua
and Barbuda, for example, is efficient in rum and
cotton production and produces light assembly goods
and agricultural products. The strengths that Barbados
has are tourism and offshore financial services. That
country also has small oil, manufacturing, sugar and
agricultural industries. For Belize, most of its income
come from agricultural crops such as maize, rice,
citrus, bananas and sugar.
As it relates to tourism, the situation in Dominica
is different. The tourism it enjoys is eco-tourism,
mainly because of its rain forest and volcanic scenery.
The manufacture of soap and coconut oil is second
to that country’s eco-tourism offer.
For Grenada, the main industries are agriculture and
light manufacturing and for Guyana, it is mining (gold
and diamond), and agriculture (sugar, rice, fish and
Sugar, cotton and coconuts are the popularly exported
goods from St. Kitts and Nevis, whilst for Suriname,
it is minerals such as bauxite, gold, petroleum and
kaolin, rice, palm oil, bananas and prawns. St. Lucia
exports goods that are produced through light manufacturing
and agriculture. The same goes for St. Vincent and
the Grenadines, whose agricultural exports include,
arrowroot and ground provisions.
Bauxite mining and agriculture, particularly products
such as coffee, spices, hot peppers, cocoa, bananas,
citrus and sugar are popular Jamaican exports. The
reggae music is also another prized industry in the
Aside from manufacturing, the major economic activities
of the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
are centred around its oil and natural gas resource.
They produce and export petroleum and petroleum products,
ammonia products, methanol, urea and natural gases.
It is expected that by 2008 there will be one CARICOM
passport. Five Member States have already introduced
a passport that identifies its holder as firstly a
CARICOM national and secondly a national of the individual
state. These are Suriname, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica,
St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda.
Steven MacAndrew, Free Movement Specialist at the
CSME regional Unit tells JIS News that, “Trinidad
and Tobago and Guyana have indicated that by July
this year, they would have introduced the CARICOM
passport”. He also says that Jamaica will institute
the passport by 2007, having recently upgraded its
passport to a machine-readable state.
With the introduction of the CARICOM passport, the
need for a national passport will be eliminated.
Interestingly, one of the spin-off benefits of the
CSM is that many hotels in Member States are offering
CARICOM nationals cheaper rates than international