Published On: Wed, Jul 5th, 2017

CSME’s struggling status up for discussion at CARICOM summit in Grenada

CaricomST GEORGE’S - Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government, as they did at last year’s annual summit, intend taking another critical look at what’s known as the CSME – the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.

At last year’s summit in Guyana, heads of government ordered the first review of the 15-year-old CSME that continues to come in for criticism from around the region, because it is seen as struggling to make its intended mark.

One of its key objectives is deepening economic integration by advancing beyond a common market towards a single market and economy.

Its aims include making full use of labour within member states of the regional grouping, full exploitation of the other factors of production, and competitive production leading to greater variety and quantity of products and services to trade with other countries.

However the one single CARICOM space envisaged has yet to materialize, and some cynics fear that it never will.

One document entitled 'Establishment of the CARICOM Single Market Economy Summary Status of Key Elements and Outstanding Action' that was highlighted a year ago revealed that the majority of the member states are delinquent, as they have, for years, failed to implement a number of agreements they either signed or ratified.

That status report noted that, except for Guyana, the remaining CARICOM member states, including Jamaica, are "still to make amendments to the relevant section of the immigration laws providing for six months definite entry for CARICOM national service providers".

As the CARICOM heads meet again this week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to tackle head on integration related matters, the grouping’s secretary general, Irwin LaRocque is defending a CSME he insists should not be written off.

According to LaRocque, the single market and economy is not receiving the credit it deserves.

He is urging member governments to highlight the gains already made under the CSME, even while acknowledging that there is still a very long way to go.

“Its constant communication to the people of the region in terms of what we’re doing, what we’re achieving, what we’re planning and how we go forward and sometimes I think we take for granted what it is we are doing and we just have to keep on informing our citizens. It’s not just the Secretariat and the secretary general who has to keep on doing this, the member states themselves need to say what’s going on and how they are benefiting from it in terms of functional cooperation in a vast number of areas. Education, health our advocacy in the international community all of these are down to the benefit of member states,” he said.

To summarize, the CSME is an essential element of integration in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

It is intended to benefit the people of the region by providing more and better opportunities for employment, to produce and sell Caribbean goods and services and to attract investment.

It is aimed at creating one large market among the participating CSME member states.

However, the CSME does not appear to be a popular notion in St Kitts and Nevis these days.

One hardly hears about it being mentioned, as domestic issues take priority front and centre stage.

And Basseterre is not alone – that apparent lack of interest is evident in most CARICOM member states today.

By Ken Richards

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