February 3, 2006
Longer wait for OECS

Six members of Caricom on Monday formally signed a protocol to establish a single market, with urgings that they push ahead to their 2008 deadline for the creation of a seamless regional economy.

But even as Jamaica’s P J Patterson and Trinidad and Tobago’s Patrick Manning pressed the need for the region to keep to its deadlines, the seven-member sub-group, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), announced a three-month delay for its members to accede to the Caribbean Single Market (CSM).{{more}}

The OECS countries had originally planned to enter the single market by March 31. But Monday, the group’s chairman told regional colleagues that they would now sign on by the end of June. They wanted undertakings in the treaty to be in place before they sign on. Although Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines who chairs the OECS, did not spell out precisely what the group wanted done, his remark was a clear reference to an embryonic Regional Development Fund which is to help bolster countries and sectors that will feel the impact of competition in a single market.

“The OECS has taken the principled position that, while we are fully committed to the process of regional integration, and intend to be full participants in the CSME, we must ensure that the provisions of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas which speaks to our own special needs are in effect,” Gonsalves told guests at Monday’s signing ceremony at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies.

“It is for this reason that we have sought from the Community, the deferment until the end of June for our full implementation of the Treaty,” he added.