CARICOM leaders are in scenic Montego Bay, Jamaica, for their 39th Regular Meeting.
As it was, more than two decades ago when Jamaica hosted the Eighteenth Meeting of the Conference in Montego Bay in 1997, the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) is the main focus. The Heads of Government gather this time around in a global environment that is different from what was occurring in 1997. The current background is of entrenched globalisation that has spawned cross-border networks in people, goods and services, and crime in all its manifestations as well. It is a background of limited positive performances and general economic downturn in the Caribbean, and international trade and financial postures that have potentially crippling effects on Member States. And, looming large and menacingly, are the consequences of climate change on small states that are already vulnerable.
The emphasis at the Meeting, under the chairmanship of the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, Jamaica Prime Minister, is the CSME. The Heads will be locked in discussion on the regional flagship programme today. They will also consider the Report of the Commission to review Jamaica’s relations within the CARICOM and CARIFORUM Frameworks, which also references the status of the CSME versus decisions that were taken to move the flagship programme forward.
The CSME, conceptualised in 1989, seeks to create a single, enlarged, economic space by removing restrictions resulting in the free movement of goods, services, people, capital and technology. The Single Market component of the CSME was established on 1st January, 2006. While it has recorded progress, stakeholders are dissatisfied with the rate of implementation of some of the decisions taken to further develop the CSM. In prioritising the CSME, the Heads of Government had mandated a review of the programme which considered the status and challenges.
Leading up to the Meeting of the Heads of Government, the CARICOM Secretary-General held a Consultation in Georgetown, Guyana, which sought stakeholder feedback on the CSME. The forum was supported by the Caribbean Development Bank. The tone of the two-day Forum was set with a high level discourse that was led by Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Mr. Bruce Golding, and Head of Economics, Caribbean Development Bank, Dr. Justin Ram. The Consultation benefitted from the input of the region’s private and public sectors and labour, and also pursued matters related to public education on the CSME and will provide some context for the discussions in Jamaica. The outcomes of the Forum will be used to inform the review of the CSME being undertaken by the Heads of Government.
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