Prime Minister Perry G. Christie leads a team of Bahamian Officials participating in the 24th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) being held in Montego Bay, Jamaica 2-5 July.
CARICOM is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, under the theme: “Integration – Our Key To Prosperity.” At an inter-faith thanksgiving service held last weekend, the Rev. Dr. Howard Gregory, Suffragan Bishop of Montego Bay, called on the Heads of Government to use the opportunity at their 24th regular meeting to strengthen the integration of CARICOM. He said, *”If our Caribbean leaders meet only to discuss the ‘gospel’ according to the free market and written by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), history will not be too kind to you.”*
CARICOM Heads of Government are faced with the task of coming up with strategies that will make countries less dependent on preferential trading arrangements and reduce their vulnerability to external shocks.
In this anniversary year, discussions are expected to focus on the impact of CARICOM over its 30 years of existence, in terms of the extent to which the regional grouping has been able to help effect fundamental changes to the structure of economies and put its population on a secure footing towards social and economic stability.
Also staged as part of the 24th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government is a CARICOM Trade Fair, under the theme ‘Products of CARICOM: Science and Technology, a Tool for Development’. The event is intended to demonstrate the impact that science and technology (S&T) has had on micro, small and medium sized businesses.
The CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) is characterised by the free and unrestricted movement of goods, services and labour, and working towards the eventual establishment of a single currency and monetary union. It is intended to provide the framework for efficient and competitive production of goods and services for the regional and international market.
Nine Protocols to the original CARICOM treaty have been negotiated and ratified as the community moves towards a SME — involving liberalisation of trade in services, rights of establishment and free movement of capital and labour. These are enabling provisions and Governments must now adopt and implement policies and measures to give effect to the objectives. A date of 2005 has been set for the full implementation of the CSME.
The Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) was established by the Treaty of Chaguaramas that came into effect on August 1, 1973. Its 15 members include: Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago. The Bahamas became the 13th Member State of the Community on July 4, 1983. Associate Members include Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands; while CARICOM Observers include Aruba, Bermuda, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
The Bahamas became the 13th Member State of the Community on July 4, 1983. It is not a member of the Common Market.