Secretary General of the Caribbean Community, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, is of the view that the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) is still the most viable way for sustainable development in the Region. He made this disclosure at the Opening Ceremony of the Thirty Eighth Regular Meeting of the CARICOM Conference of Heads of Government on Tuesday evening in Grenada. He said the task now was to ensure the private sector fully utilises its provisions.
“We must move to strengthen the enabling environment to support their efforts. Trade facilitation and the ease of doing business at the regional level are at least equally important as fiscal incentives. We must come to a conclusion on issues such as government procurement, harmonisation of customs rules and regulations and transparent harmonised sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
Citing results from an Inter-American Development Bank study, the CARICOM Secretary-General explained that if the Region addressed challenges associated with regional transportation, inter-regional trade could be doubled. This, he said would have a positive effect on competitiveness and external trade as well as Member States’ ability to attract investment. He also said that a new CARICOM Multilateral Air Services agreement – which will be an item on the Heads’ agenda – could result in reduced freight rates and passenger airfares and increase air transport services, leading to more options for consumers and expanded inter-regional tourism.
Another topic on the agenda for the Heads of Government will be the Human Resource Development 2030 Strategy. Secretary-General LaRocque said the Commission on Human Resource Development would present the Strategy, which will address the development of skills for the 21st century economy and society. He said that the important factor in education and training was providing employable skills, opening the mind to identify opportunities and encouraging the process of lifelong learning. According to him, the plan was to have a globally competitive innovative and seamlessly integrated education system for the Region by 2030.
Ambassador LaRocque also advised that an agreement for the establishment of a Caribbean Community Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, which will be headquartered in Barbados, will be open for signature at the Meeting.
Turning to the matter of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the Secretary-General lamented the fact that the lifestyle and choices being made by the citizens of the Region were causing incidents of NCDs to reach almost epidemic proportions. He noted that while NCDs affected persons individually, there were repercussions that had adverse social and economic effects, regionally. As the Region commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Port-of-Spain Declaration on NCDs, He urged the Heads of Government to reassert their leadership and encourage regional citizens to accept responsibility for their lifestyles and what they consumed, especially since there remained areas of significant concern with regard to risk factors for NCDs, particularly childhood obesity.
Ambassador LaRocque also used his remarks to congratulate Ms. Shirley Pryce who was honoured with the Triennial Award for Women. He said the award recognised an outstanding CARICOM woman who had made a significant contribution to the economic development of the Caribbean.
“Ms. Pryce has earned this award through championing the rights of domestic workers in the region and around the globe. She is a true Ambassador and a global leader who is making a difference in the lives of so many women and marginalised workers! Congratulations Miss Pryce.”
Speaking to the matter of regional security, the Secretary-General said significant progress had been made on regional security instruments since the last meeting of the Conference. This, he said, would add to the arsenal in the battle to secure the Region. He also expressed hope that a CARICOM Arrest Warrant Treaty, which was approved by the Legal Affairs Committee (LAC), would be opened for signature at the Meeting.
In closing, the Secretary General did not miss the opportunity to invite everyone to Barbados for CARIFESTA XIII from 17 August to witness what he called the creative talents of our people and the bedrock of the Region’s creative industries.
“Come and have some fun. Come and celebrate the Caribbean civilisation”, Ambassador LaRocque said.
The Summit will conclude on Thursday 6 July, 2017.
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ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, Tuesday July 4, 2017 – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME) is not getting the credit it deserves for all it achieves, according to the 15-member grouping’s top public servant.
CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque yesterday admitted that the CSME was seen by many as a waste of time, but said this was simply because the people of the region did not know enough about the achievements.
“There are always a few things I can say that we can do better, but I think we are doing not too badly . . . . So we have to do a better job at communication, basically, both from the standpoint of the Secretariat as well as the member states. I regret that people see it as a waste of time. I don’t think it is. Absolutely not,” LaRoque told a news conference in Grenada to announce the agenda for the CARICOM Heads of Government summit which officially starts this evening.
“It is constant communication to the people of the region in terms of what we are doing, what we are achieving and how we are going forward. Sometimes we take for granted what it is that we are doing,” he added.
CARICOM is yet to achieve the second phase of the integration process, which includes harmonized economic policy.
However, LaRocque said at the last summit, the leaders had taken stock of the CSME, and a roadmap was being prepared to help countries that were “lagging behind in certain areas”.
“We are in discussion with them on time frames that need to be adhered to. That does not mean that the rights and obligations that member states have by virtue of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, or by decisions taken, [are] negated,” he said.
The Secretary General said the Georgetown, Guyana-headquartered Secretariat and the member countries have an obligation to inform the general public “what is going on and how they are benefiting from it in terms of functional corporation in a vast number of areas – education, health, our advocacy in the international community”.
LaRocque announced that the leaders’ three-day summit will have a heavy emphasis on tourism, human resource development and entrepreneurship.
Other matters on the packed agenda include crime and security, border issues, health, climate adaptation, renewable energy, and Brexit. (Barbados Today)
“Yes, we have done a lot, but we must do better.
“The private sector is asking us to do better.
“The people of the Region are asking us to do better”, the Secretary-General said.
He was at the time delivering remarks at the opening of the Forty-Fourth Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) at the Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown, Guyana. The COTED is responsible for the promotion of trade and economic development of CARICOM. In particular, it is required to oversee the development, operation and implementation of the CSME.
The two-day Meeting is focusing on the establishment of timelines for the implementation of aspects of the regional flagship programme,
— CARICOM (@CARICOMorg) May 10, 2017
The Secretary-General reminded Ministers of Trade and Heads of Delegation at the Meeting that CARICOM Heads of Government had committed to deepening regional economic integration through the CSME. Heads of government, in July 2016, had mandated a comprehensive review of the CSME. The review was done and was considered at the Intersessional Meeting of the Heads of Government held in Georgetown in February, 2017.
“The CSME is the foundation for spurring vibrant regional growth and development”, Ambassador LaRocque said, as he pointed to the emphasis that was being placed on the need for consolidation and further development of the CSME.
The Heads of Government have noted the significant programmes on implementation of legal and institutional measures and mechanisms to support the free movement of goods, services, skills and cross-border establishment of businesses, the Secretary-General highlighted in his remarks, but pointed out that they had concerns about non-compliance with their decisions.
Our leaders, however, expressed concern that some of their decisions had not been complied with. They lamented the fact that some of our Organs and Bodies have failed to meet, to consider critical aspects of the CSME. And items remain much too long on the agenda of the Councils. They also recognised the need for effective consultative mechanisms and addressing capacity constraints at the national level.
Their observations come against the backdrop of the slow pace in addressing some of the elements of the CSME. We have been discussing issues such as Government Procurement and basic contingent rights for a decade or more without concluding on the matter. And there are aspects of the free movement of skills regime and market access for specific products that require urgent decision”, Ambassador LaRocque said.
The Secretary-General that the Council itself is also hampered by non-compliance with its decisions, and warned that the failure to adhere to the rules of the integration movement poses a threat to the credibility of the Community.
The COTED Meeting will also discuss the Community’s external trade policy and strategy, and its preparation for Britain’s departure from the European Union.