Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, tabled a copy of the Report of the Commission to Review Jamaica’s Relations within the CARICOM and CARIFORUM Frameworks in the House of Representatives, yesterday (February 6).
The Commission was charged with evaluating the effects of Jamaica’s membership in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on the country’s economic growth and development, with particular reference to trade in goods and services, investment, international competitiveness and job creation.
The report includes 33 recommendations, and has been presented against the background of the establishment of CARICOM in 1973, which involved a communal vision of Caribbean integration, as well as the Revision of the Treaty of Chaguaramas in 2001, intended to establish the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Tabling the report, Prime Minister Holness underscored that the review was not intended to seek an exit from CARICOM and from various regional arrangements, such as the CSME but to undertake a full review of the structure, procedures and practices that have not worked effectively in the national and regional interest.
“The recommendations and principles of results-based management and greater public scrutiny are carefully noted. In order to increase effectiveness, a definitive commitment by all Member States to a specific time-bound, measurable and verifiable programme of action to fulfil all their obligations and complete all requirements for the Caribbean Single Market to be fully established and operational within the next five years must be in place,” Mr. Holness said.
He added that this can be aligned and accelerated where appropriate in accordance with the shorter timelines in the current implementation plan, and otherwise adjusted.
“Failure to do so would, at that time, put into question the viability of Jamaica’s continued participation in what would then have to be recognised as an ineffective Caribbean Single Market process, lacking the true commitment of Member States. In such circumstances, one would then have to consider how best Jamaica would be situated in the CARICOM model,” Mr. Holness said.
Among the recommendations in the report are full free movement of people throughout the Community, subject only to exclusions for security and public health reasons; harmonisation of laws and regulations relating to financial services; harmonisation of custom laws, regulations and procedures, especially in the treatment of perishable goods; and agreed protocols on sanitary and phytosanitary standards and procedures.
The report also recommended free circulation of goods imported from outside the CSME, once the appropriate import charges have been paid at the original port of entry; removal of all non-tariff barriers to trade; and implementation of a harmonised investment policy and incentives framework; and the development of a regional investment code.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said he is looking forward to discussing the report with his CARICOM colleague Heads of Government and to receiving their feedback as well as the feedback from the Secretariat.
He added that the region must boldly reposition itself within the global context for greater economic cooperation to its mutual benefit as a collective force.
“I am confident that in completing our collective review of the Report… we will be able to make the right decisions, and take the necessary actions to ensure the advancement of the region through CARICOM, and continued cooperation with CARIFORUM States within the framework of the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) Group of States,” Mr. Holness said.
He noted that this will be imperative to “ensure that Jamaica optimises our participation in, and benefits from the regional processes, particularly in terms of improvement in trade in goods and services, investment, international competitiveness, job creation, and the free movement of people and capital across the region”.