Prime Minister Rowley Urges Action on CSME

Prime Minister Dr the Honourable Keith Rowley implored his CARICOM counterparts to use the special meeting on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) convened today (Monday 03 December, 2018) in Port of Spain to make a definitive decision on the future of the regional initiative.

“I am hoping on behalf of the people of Trinidad and Tobago and the people of the region that this meeting will result in us taking firm positions on what we are going to do with our CARICOM heritage,” Dr Rowley said.

He added, “I implore my colleagues to take this opportunity to make steps forward. CARICOM is not about winners and losers. We are all in this together. Looking for ways out, so as to avoid the potential of being a loser is the surest way to destroy the legacy of this organisation and frustrate those who hope that its promise will be realised.”

Prime Minister Rowley made the comments during his opening remarks at the 18th Special Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government on the CSME.

Dr Rowley advised the conference that his thoughts on the subject were informed by three documents – the CARICOM Review Commission chaired by former Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding, a presentation by Dr. the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves titled Some Salient Issues for Resolution in CARICOM and the package of papers prepared by the CARICOM Secretariat for this special meeting.

These documents, he said, make it clear that the region is facing geographical segmentation and reveal that the current arrangement might more aptly be referred to as an association of Caribbean States as opposed to a common marketplace.

The Prime Minister cautioned that hard decisions must be made if the region is to realise its full potential and said that this meeting serves as a call for leaders to honestly identify the elements of the plan that are feasible and those that are not.

After a brief opening the conference heard from members of the private sector and labour regarding their perspective and recommendations for the CSME. Their input has been identified as critical to the region’s success.

Additional agenda items for the two-day meeting include: the Expansion of Categories of Skilled Community Nationals, the Report of the Commission to Review Jamaica’s Relations within the CARICOM and CARIFORUM Frameworks and Effective Settlement of Disputes.

It was at the 38th Regular Meeting of the Heads of Government in Grenada in July 2017 that Dr Rowley made a request for a special meeting to treat with this matter. During his maiden address to the Conference at the opening of the 37th Meeting of the Heads of Government in July 2016 in Guyana he urged regional leaders to return the CSME to CARICOM’s “active agenda”.

Prime Minister of Jamaica and Chairman of CARICOM, the Honourable Andrew Holness, President of Haiti, His Excellency Jovenel Mois, Prime Minister of Barbados, the Honourable Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Grenada, the Honourable Dr Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of St Lucia, the Honourable Allen Chastanet, Guyana Second Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Barrington Greenidge and Suriname Vice President H. E. Michael Ashwin Adhin are among the heads of delegations who attended today’s meeting.

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