CARICOM Heads meeting in Belize

BELMOPAN – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders will discuss a draft protocol aimed at pushing forward the further implementation of aspects of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) during their two-day Inter-sessional summit that gets underway here on Tuesday.

CARICOM Secretary General, Dr Carla Barnett, speaking at a news conference ahead of the event, told reporters that the protocol will be discussed “and we will see if there are other things that need to be done as the legal drafts persons would say to perfect it.

“But it is at the stage where we have a draft protocol for consideration. We have not had that before. So for me that we have managed to reach that stage is a good thing,” she added.

The CSME is an arrangement among the 15-member CARICOM member states for the creation of a single enlarged economic space through the removal of restrictions resulting in the free movement of goods, services, persons, capital and technology.

The decision, in 1989, to establish the CSME was regarded as a move to deepen the integration movement to better respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by globalisation.

But there have been varying degrees of implementation of the CSME over the years and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who has lead responsibility for the CSME within the quasi-CARICOM cabinet is expected to table the draft protocol during the two-day meeting here.

“She has been meeting within that Committee and with the CARICOM Secretariat’s staff to work through what needs to be done to accelerate implementation. One of the important things that will be on the table at this meeting is a protocol on the enhanced cooperation among member states that will allow sub-groups of member states to work together closely so that we do not remain bound by the current understanding that we all have to agree to every single step before we make a single step.

“That is one of the issues that kept back the forward movement in the Community. The growing feeling is that if there can be like minds among a sub-set of countries and they want to move forward on a particular aspect of the Single Market and Economy, they ought to be able to move forward together and then the remainder who may not be ready at the same time can join when they are able to.

“So this protocol would allow that forward movement and that I think is the most important thing that will be addressed at this meeting in addition to taking stock as to where we are,” Barnett told reporters.

Barnett told reporters that the regional leaders will also be discussing the situation in Haiti and that Prime Minister Dr Ariel Henry is expected to attend the first in-person meeting of CARICOM leaders since the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic two years ago had made meetings a virtual affair. (CMC)

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