Chairman of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), and President of Guyana, David Granger, said yesterday that if the region is to escape the “hazard” of economic emasculation in today’s global environment, efforts must be made to
expedite the full implementation of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).
The Head of State made this call at the 28th Inter-sessional Meeting of the Conference of Caricom, which convened yesterday in Guyana at the Marriott Hotel in Kingston, Georgetown.
The CSME is an arrangement among the CARICOM States for the creation of a single enlarged economic space through the removal of restrictions resulting in the free movement of goods, services, people, capital and technology.
However, there have been several challenges being faced by Member States, primarily in the area of free movement of people and services.
President Granger told the Heads of State that the community faces threats that include dampened demand for goods and services and reported distortions in financial sectors caused by de-risking by international banks.
He however, expressed confidence in the CSME, noting that it has the potential to enhance private sector growth and competitiveness by providing access to a larger pool of resources, facilitate the movement of human capital, catalyse the establishment of regional businesses and encourage the free movement of goods.
“The CSME must not be allowed to become a victim of equivocation and procrastination,” he told his regional counterparts.
The Chairman noted also, that the full implementation of the CSME will enhance functional cooperation, which will aid the region in reaching its full potential, primarily in the areas of food security and energy.
“The Caribbean Community has the capability to meet its food needs. Food security will ensure health and nutritional benefits for our people, earn foreign exchange and eliminate the bloated bill for importing food.
Ensuring regional food security is a cross-sectoral task involving cooperation in agriculture, finance, health and nutrition and infrastructure, among other sectors. Belize, Guyana and Suriname – the Community’s three mainland states – are together, bigger than Germany or Japan.
Food security can be advanced by the fuller utilisation of our lands for large-scale investment in agriculture and agro-processing and by dismantling barriers to regional trade in agricultural products.”Granger said.
CARICOM must also intensify its efforts at regional energy security, Granger said, while asserting that Member States are equipped to do so, since they are “blessed with abundant sources of renewable energy”.
“The Community has done considerable, commendable work towards ensuring energy security which can ease the Community’s energy sector off of its addiction to fossil fuel, and encourage the adoption of renewable sources of energy.”
Meanwhile, CARICOM’s Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, during his remarks, stated that “considerable” progress has been made in implementing the CSME.
This, he said, is evident in the legal and institutional measures and mechanisms to support the free movement of goods, services, skills, and cross-border establishment of businesses. However, there is still much to be done.
“With all that is before us, it is relevant and timely for this Meeting to consider a comprehensive review of the CSME, as agreed to last July. Ideally, a review of the CSME must not only be about what has been done, or not done, and what might have been the constraining factors; it should also be about the impact and how it has measured up to intent and expectations, and therefore how the shortcomings might be addressed.” LaRocque stated.
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