“Yes, we have done a lot, but we must do better.
“The private sector is asking us to do better.
“The people of the Region are asking us to do better”, the Secretary-General said.
This is according to Secretary General of CARICOM, Ambassador Irwin Laroque. He was at the time delivering remarks at the opening of the Forty-Fourth Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED at the Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown, Guyana.
The COTED is responsible for the promotion of trade and economic development of our Community. In particular, it is required to oversee the development, operation and implementation of the CSME.
The two-day Meeting, under the chairmanship of Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry of Suriname, the Hon Ferdinand Welzjin, is focusing on the establishment of timelines for the implementation of aspects of the regional flagship programme,
The Secretary-General reminded Ministers of Trade and Heads of Delegation at the Meeting that CARICOM Heads of Government had committed to deepening regional economic integration through the CSME. Heads of government, in July 2016, had mandated a comprehensive review of the CSME. The review was done and was considered at the Intersessional Meeting of the Heads of Government held in Georgetown in February, 2017.
“The CSME is the foundation for spurring vibrant regional growth and development”, Ambassador LaRocque said, as he pointed to the emphasis that was being placed on the need for consolidation and further development of the CSME.
The Heads of Government have noted the significant programmes on implementation of legal and institutional measures and mechanisms to support the free movement of goods, services, skills and cross-border establishment of businesses, the Secretary-General highlighted in his remarks, but pointed out that they had concerns about non-compliance with their decisions.
“Our leaders, however, expressed concern that some of their decisions had not been complied with. They lamented the fact that some of our Organs and Bodies have failed to meet, to consider critical aspects of the CSME. And items remain much too long on the agenda of the Councils. They also recognised the need for effective consultative mechanisms and addressing capacity constraints at the national level.
“Their observations come against the backdrop of the slow pace in addressing some of the elements of the CSME. We have been discussing issues such as Government Procurement and basic contingent rights for a decade or more without concluding on the matter. And there are aspects of the free movement of skills regime and market access for specific products that require urgent decision.
The Secretary-General said that the Council itself was also hampered by non-compliance with its decisions, and warned that the failure to adhere to the rules of the integration movement posed a threat to the credibility of the Community.
The COTED Meeting will also discuss the Community’s external trade policy and strategy, and its preparation for Britain’s departure from the European Union.