As the Forty-Sixth Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) was opened today in Guyana, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General (SG), Ambassador Irwin LaRocque outlined that while there has been significant progress in advancing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) much more needs to be done.
LaRocque reminded that the main task of COTED is overseeing the functioning of the CARICOM CSME, as well as promoting and developing the external trade relations of the Community.
The CARICOM SG said at the core of the issue with the proliferation of the Single Market Economy is the lack of implementation by member states.
He touched on the review conducted on CSME last year and to which the Heads of Government approved an Implementation Plan for outstanding issues as it relates to previous decisions, commitments and timelines.
According to LaRocque, “The Plan is to be published shortly. But for it to be meaningful, Member States must provide up-to-date information on their compliance. Among other things, the Review showed that the lack of an effective consultative system at the national and regional levels has negatively affected decision making and implementation.”
Outlining that a stakeholders consultation is expected to be held soon to examine the CSME and its implementation, with a view of identifying what is necessary to make it more effective, the CARICOM SG expounded that the success of the CSME will “largely be judged on the basis of our full implementation of the measures that allow Member States, CARICOM nationals and businesses to benefit.”
“From time to time, various challenges will arise which may not only have a direct impact on businesses but also on individuals within the Community. Such matters require effective and timely resolution.This will ensure that the rights and benefits conferred under our integration arrangements are not only protected, but are allowed to flourish. This, however, can only be achieved if we move expeditiously and decisively to resolve our differences, particularly those which have risen to the level of disputes.” The CARICOM SG said “that there are issues which remain on our agenda for far too long. For example, we have been grappling with both Government Procurement and Contingent Rights for more than a decade, going back and forth with seemingly endless consultation.”
According LaRocque “Politics, it is said, is the art of the possible. Let us make it possible to complete these outstanding matters. When officials seem not to be able to conclude on a matter, I dare say, it is the duty of the Ministers to ensure that it is done.”
He also noted that the Council is also being requested to provide the necessary guidance on the steps to take in fully operationalizing the dispute settlement mechanisms under Chapter Nine of the Revised Treaty.
“This is not only intended to address matters related to disputes arising from Member States’ non-compliance with their obligations under the Treaty, but also the enforcement of decisions of the COTED, in order to further advance the implementation of the CSME” he said.