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The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), an economic bloc among Caribbean territories, is at breaking point, according to a document circulated among its fifteen member states which urges rapid structural and operational reform.
A report published ahead of CARICOM's March plenary urges members to commit to "fundamental changes" in the management structure and workings of the CARICOM Secretariat to avoid members from "voting with their feet", leading to a break-up of the group.
The report, 'Turning Around CARICOM: Proposals to Restructure the Secretariat', says that a "crisis" within CARICOM "is sufficiently severe to put CARICOM's very existence in question". The report warns of members' frustration over excessive bureaucracy and political apathy which have stymied progress in recent years, in addition to the economic strain put on the block by the financial crisis.
CARICOM is an organization of fifteen Caribbean states: Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Bahamas; Belize; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Haiti; Jamaica; Montserrat; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Suriname; and Trinidad and Tobago. Numerous other Caribbean nations and a number of Latin American nations hold associate or observer statuses.
Over the years since its creation in 1973, CARICOM members have developed the Single Market and Economy, a single economic space within the community, exempting most goods and services from export and import duties. As part of the Single Market and Economy, CARICOM applies a common external tariff, which applies uniform duties on the import of goods from outside of the community with revenues shared among member states.
In addition, through CARICOM, Caribbean nations have concluded Free Trade Agreements, to reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers between CARICOM and other nations to boost the region's capacity to trade globally. CARICOM has agreements in place with Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, the European Union, and the bloc is negotiating or discussing further agreements with Canada, Mercosur, and the United States.
CARICOM nations are due to discuss the organisation's fate when it meets on March 8-9 in Suriname.
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