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Douglas Defends Caribbean Economic Integration

by Amanda Banks,, London

15 November 2006

Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and Chairman of CARICOM, Denzil L. Douglas has reiterated his view that regional integration is the way forward for sustainable economic development within the Caribbean.

“I am of the view that the future of the Caribbean has to be grounded in its ability to effectively integrate in such a manner as to effect workable strategies that inform our foreign affairs and trade policies, and overall development strategies in an increasingly competitive world,” Douglas told the 8th Congress of the World Federation of Consuls in Jamaica last week.

He noted that the issues of market size, capacity weaknesses, shortcomings in institutional structures and systems and productivity would be central in shaping the development agenda for the Caribbean community.

However, competitiveness within the world economy and other geo-political trends combined, made the economic environment for the development of the Caribbean region very challenging, he observed.

But, according to Douglas, the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) provides the basis for the region’s businesses to begin looking outward in a more substantial and competitive manner.

He also defended the recent establishment of the Caribbean Court Of Justice (CCJ), arguing that the institution was vital for the development of the CSME.

“When all factors are taken into account, one can only conclude that the way forward for countries of the Caribbean lies in the effectiveness of our own integration, the efficiencies and the relevance of our own regional institutions, upon increased access to tertiary level education, greater exposure to specialized training, and the effective implementation and operation of the CSME. All these will have to be pursued vigorously,” Douglas stated.

2006 has seen substantial progress within CARICOM itself towards the creation of a unified free trade area. Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago launched the CSME in mid-year, while the OECS states, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, BVI, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines signaled their intention to form their own economic union, as well as committing to membership of the CSME.

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