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OECS To Launch Economic Union

by Amanda Banks,, London

29 June 2006

Heads of Government of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) have signed a Declaration of Intent signaling their desire to form an Economic Union.

The Signing Ceremony took place during the official opening of the 43rd Meeting of the Authority in St. Kitts and Nevis last week, during which the New Draft Treaty of the OECS was unveiled.

The new Treaty will guide the thrust by the OECS region to create an Economic Union among Member States, and replaces the Treaty of Basseterre which established the OECS on June 18th 1981.

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and Chairman of the OECS, Baldwin Spencer said that Economic Union will "add value" to the wider CARICOM initiative and the OECS participation in the Single Market Economy (CSME).

"It is with a great sense of pride and satisfaction that I rise to unveil the draft of the new OECS Treaty," declared Mr Spencer.

Mr Spencer explained that the Treaty will lead to the establishment of the OECS Economic Union in one year's time, following the completion of "an extensive sub-regional public consultative process".

"These discussions on the Treaty will take place at all levels of our societies and across all sectors of our economies. By this process, our people will appreciate and fully understand the rationale for the necessity to deepen the OECS integration process, and give this noble effort their full support," he observed.

Mr Spencer added that "tremendous progress" has been made in the twenty-five years since the signing of the Treaty of Basseterre.

"Our small size, limited resources and production base, and our vulnerability, especially to natural disasters, all underscore the importance of the vision and the importance of the decision taken twenty-five years ago to establish the Treaty of Basseterre," he argued.

"The Treaty of Basseterre has helped our countries to address the challenges of the social and economic development of our people through the pooling of available resources," he added.

OECS member states include Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Lucia, St. Kitts & Nevis and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.

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