Friday, 22 June 2012 02:30
By press release
Antigua St. John’s – Thursday June 21 2012 marked the opening of national consultations aimed at identifying the factors and circumstances that are retarding the full integration of the OECS and Belize into the CARICOM Single Market & Economy (CSME).
The consultations will also seek to identify ways and means of ameliorating the effects of those negative factors and circumstances, thus speeding the full integration of the entire CARICOM region into one economic unit.
Reproduced below are Remarks by Senator Joanne Massiah to convene the National Consultations on Factors and Circumstances Restricting the Full Integration of the OECS and Belize into the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), June 21st, 2012:
H.E. Dr. Clarence Henry, Mr. Ivor Carly, Mr. Steven MacAndrew, Technicians from Stakeholder Ministries, Members of the Media, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Morning!
On behalf of the Division of Industry and Commerce, I extend warm and sincere greetings to our Colleagues and friends from the CARICOM Secretariat – Mr. Ivor Caryl and Mr. Steven MacAndrew - two very conscientious professionals from the Secretariat who, over the years, have continued to carry the mantle of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Mr. Caryl, in particular, has been a good friend of Antigua & Barbuda and has been timely in his responses to our requests for technical assistance in diverse areas. We have also benefitted from numerous projects which have assisted us in addressing capacity constraints in respect of the implementation of the CSME.
I convey publicly again, our profound appreciation to the Secretariat for its ongoing assistance to Antigua & Barbuda.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Recognising the ongoing challenges which we face in our efforts to fulfill our obligations under the Revised CARICOM Treaty, the Government has continually provided public education regarding the different provisions contained therein.
One such provision is Chapter VII entitled “Disadvantaged Countries, Regions and Sectors”, which was negotiated by the Less Developed Countries (LDCs), comprising the OECS and Belize, as a special provision to address developmental concerns. Through this provision, the better endowed countries within CARICOM (or MDCs) have recognized the limitations of the “less resource endowed countries” underscored through several regional studies particularly the Owen Arthur Report on the Full Integration of the LDCs into the CSME.
We continue to advocate for special attention to be given to our jurisdictions particularly now when our countries continue to experience the adverse effects occasioned by the global fiscal and economic crisis.
At the 34th meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) last March, an item relating to the Recommendations of the Report to Examine Factors and Circumstances Restricting the Full Integration of Belize and the OECS in CARICOM into the CSME was discussed.
During that meeting, Antigua & Barbuda took the position that there was need for national consultations to solicit the public’s input on this matter. The Council agreed with our position and subsequently, I requested that the Secretariat facilitate a series of national consultations with stakeholders on the aforementioned report.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen: There are a number of meetings that will form part of the national consultations. These include meetings with the public and private sectors, civil society, a number of my colleague Ministers and Her Majesty’s loyal opposition.
They are aimed at informing about the Consultancy and the Draft Implementation Plan, while seeking local perspectives from stakeholders for inclusion into the final document. It is an opportunity for the country to indicate what, and how much resources, is anticipated to address the challenges which restrict Antigua and Barbuda’s full implementation of its CSME’s obligations.
Let there be no doubt about our commitment to the CSME. However, we are of the concerted opinion that the region – particularly the MDCs - must assist the LDCs often called the “weak” to become “strong” through the provision of resources.
I wish you all a successful consultation and urge and encourage a robust exchange of ideas as together, we seek to ensure that Antigua & Barbuda and Antiguans and Barbudans can participate fully and enjoy the benefits which the CSME envisages for our region!
I now declare these series of consultations officially commenced.
Thank you for your kind attention.