CARICOM heads try to accelerate economic integration

CARICOM Heads of Government have agreed to accelerate the implementation of several long-discussed measures relating to regional economic integration through the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Meeting in Barbados on 5 and 6 September, the Council of Ministers of Finance and Planning (COFAP) and the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on the CSME agreed to recommend to a special meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government in Trinidad in December, the rapid implementation of measures likely to benefit ordinary citizens and business.

Specifically, the CSME sub-committee proposed concerted action to:

  • Establish a single CARICOM registration mechanism for companies, through the principle of mutual recognition so business could in future operate within a single regional jurisdiction. The measure aims to encourage cross-Caribbean investment, remove regulatory impediments and lower the costs for companies able to operate in a seamless pan-CARICOM environment;
  • Expand the number of categories of CARICOM workers allowed to work freely within the region from ten to 11. A proposed new category will enable agricultural workers to travel freely to work in other CARICOM nations so as to encourage food production and food security.
  • Establish a regional law reform centre able to develop model laws relating to the social and economic sectors. The proposal aims to overcome capacity constraints in individual jurisdictions and accelerate at a national level the legal drafting and passing of bills of significance to CARICOM businesses and individuals.

Barbados’s Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, said that the CSME committee, which she chairs, also focussed on member states delivering agreed CSME implementation plans in the short, medium and long term. Countries, she said, would in future be asked to provide regular updates on their progress.  To this end she said that she as chair would work with all CARICOM heads “to ensure that progress is made in a seamless way”.

Mottley also said that Heads in making their recommendations were sensitive to the fact “that we have to be able to move the region closer to a level of food security in ways that we have not perhaps been as assiduous about doing in recent times”.

For its part the COFAP recommended:

  • The creation of regional framework for a deposit insurance system which will establish a level of a protection for depositors against losses due to the failure of financial institutions. The recommendation reflects the problems experienced by depositors and investors with BAICO, CLICO and other failed financial institutions within the region.
  • Expediting the CARICOM Financial Services Agreement and the CARICOM Credit Reporting Policy which are intended to regulate the operations of credit bureaux and the cross-border exchange of credit information. Ministers said that their objective was to ensure CARICOM nationals felt financially included wherever they were working in the region.

According to Antigua’s Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, who chaired the COFAP meeting, finance ministers also ‘took follow up action’ to ensure that that instruments relating to a CARICOM Investment Policy; an investment code; an incentives regime; and an integrated capital market based around the adoption of model securities market legislation, would be ready in time for the February and July 2019 meetings of CARICOM Heads of Government.

The outcomes of the two meetings reflect a growing awareness among the region’s political leadership that unless CARICOM citizens and business can see positive practical outcomes from the CSME the integration process will wither and die.

 

This is a lead article from Caribbean Insight, The Caribbean Council’s flagship fortnightly publication. From The Bahamas to French Guiana, each edition consists of country-by-country analysis of the leading news stories of consequence, distilling business and political developments across the Caribbean into a single must-read publication. Please follow the links on the right-hand side of this page to subscribe, or access a free trial.

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