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CARICOM Set To Open Its Doors In 2005

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

29 December 2004

As CARICOM moves towards at least partial fulfilment in 2005, a ceremonial opening of the ultra-modern Secretariat building at Liliendaal, in the Greater Georgetown area of Guyana, has been set for February 16, 2005.

The complex is a gift from the Government of Guyana, assisted by Japan, in the context of the original Treaty of Chaguaramas under which the community was formed. The building is 317 feet by 157 feet and is built structurally of steel with aluminium and glass curtain-walls.

CARICOM comprises a number of initiatives, of which arguably the two most significant are CSME (the Caribbean Single Market and Economy), and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

CARICOM consists of 15 nations, some of which have 'less developed' status. Members are: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The formation process has been vexed and slow, but Prime Minister of Barbados Owen Arthur believes that all the countries planning to implement the CSME by 2005 are on track to meet their objectives. “We are on our way to have all the countries in the region honour the obligations by 2005,” he confirmed, adding that there “is no need absolutely to relax the deadline." It will be a while however before the CSME represents much more than token integration. Initially, freedom of movement for certain categories of people, and some mutual reductions of customs tariffs will be the main features of the new grouping. Moves towards a common currency, a regional stock exchange and other economic measures will take longer to achieve.

Inauguration of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), originally set for November, 2004, has been postponed until next year, as a result of the failure of three Caribbean countries to pass the relevant legislation. Translation of the treaties relating to the CCJ and Single Market and Economy (CSME) into national law is a pre-condition of the loan agreement reached with the Caribbean Development Bank for the funding of the Court.

London's Privy Council will be replaced by the new Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the final court of appeal for Caribbean members of the Commonwealth. The CCJ is expected to hear its first case in March 2005.

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