CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque has called for consistent efforts of Regional Heads for the implementation of recommendations, towards the achieving goals set out under the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).
LaRocque was at the time addressing the opening of the 48th meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) at the Guyana Marriott in Kingston, Georgetown. He warned that implementation of the CSME cannot be a shifting target. “We cannot come to meeting after meeting and agree to a Plan and not carry forward the work.”
In his remarks to delegates, the CARICOM Secretary-General emphasised on the necessity of the COTED to take decisions that impact the people of the Region.
“An urgency to complete the agreed measures and make the CSME a lived reality for our citizens has been the hallmark of the recent discussions among our Heads of Government. As the Council tasked under the Revised Treaty to “promote the development and oversee the operation of the CSME” you have a pivotal role to play in ensuring that we accomplish the goals in that regard.”
He also placed emphasis on the importance of implementation of decisions.
“I do so, keenly aware of the responsibilities that have been placed upon this Council at this time. Foremost among them are issues crucial to the further development of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.”
La Rocque noted that in a little over two months, heads of government will be expecting to receive a report card that indicates that the mandates laid out last year, have been fulfilled.
Priorities were identified by the Leaders and an implementation plan agreed upon. Member States recommitted fully to the effective implementation of the CSME and agreed to the timelines – short, medium and long-term – set by the Plan. This meeting presents an opportunity to review the actions taken by Member States to meet the timelines so that there could be an assessment of our progress.
He stressed that there must be an urgency to complete the agreed measures and make the CSME a lived reality for our citizens, has been the hallmark of the recent discussions among our Heads of Government.
“As the Council tasked under the Revised Treaty to “promote the development and oversee the operation of the CSME” you have a pivotal role to play in ensuring that we accomplish the goals in that regard.”
A fundamental element of the Single Market is the Trade in Goods. A review of the Common External Tariff (CET) and the Rules of Origin, the Community’s two major trade policy instruments, has been undertaken to assist in increasing the effectiveness of the Trade-in-Goods Regime. It aims to bring those instruments up to date, given the changes to our production structures that have taken place since they were first drafted.
Another critical component of our economic integration, La Roque said is the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF).
The CDF is designed to provide assistance to Regions, countries and sectors disadvantaged by the operations of the CSME.
As part of its mission to reduce the gaps in the development of Member States, a proposed Cohesion Policy has been put forward by the CDF which would support the CARICOM Strategic Goal of ‘Building Economic Resilience – Stabilisation and Sustainable Economic Growth and Development’.
One of the aims of the Cohesion Policy is to ensure that, in addition to supporting disadvantaged countries, the CDF should, by 2020, support targeted pilot projects in every Member State.
As such, the CARICOM Secretary General urged Member States to complete long overdue national consultations, to enable the formulation and implementation of these interventions.
“And of course there is also the need to replenish the Fund. The CDF is written into the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and we are obliged to ensure its operation.
Completing our internal market and economic arrangements will allow us to engage more effectively as a unit with our international trading partners. We have been active in that arena, with most notably ensuring that our trading relationship with the United Kingdom will remain essentially the same when that country leaves the European Union.“
Meanwhile, Chairman of COTED and Barbados Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Sandra Husbands, urged Trade Ministers to take action on matters that will allow the people of the Region to actively feel the benefit of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). Chief among those actions are related to the free movement of people.
“We need to take care of certain elements that are important to our people”, she said.
She told delegates at the Meeting that collective thinking, identification of common interests and unity were necessary to achieve integration goals.
Ministers, she added, needed to be strategic, deliberate and effective with decisions and implementation activities of the CSME.
“The Implementation of the CSME is one of the main issues under discussion at the two-day Meeting. Delegates will review the agreed implementation plan for the CSME and challenges that are being encountered, and will also brainstorm priorities for making the flagship programme more effective.”
It was important, she said, for Ministers to view their work under the umbrella of COTED, not from the perspective of individual Member States, but rather what was best for common interest of the Region.
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