Take advantage of CSME – CARICOM Secretariat Economic Adviser tells businesses

Regional private sector organisations should take advantage of the free movement of factors of production that the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) allows in order to achieve production efficiency and competitiveness.

This was the view of Ms. Desiree Field-Ridley, Adviser, Single Market and Sectoral Programmes, Directorate for Trade and Economic Integration of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat.

In an interview that focussed on maximising opportunities within the CSME, she pointed out that the CSME was intended to provide “access to total Region’s resources rather than just access to a country’s resource”.

Guyana, in particular, she noted, had the potential to be “a vital source of supply” in CARICOM, owing to its resource-rich characteristics. That potential is yet not fully tapped, she added.

The CSME is considered the flagship programme of the regional integration movement that fosters an environment for trade and investment to thrive intra-regionally and externally. The arrangement provides for seamless movement of duly qualified categories of people from one participating state to another to work and earn, hence creating a single market hub. The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the CSME provides the legal framework for implementation of the regimes and has been enacted into domestic law by all countries participating in the CSME.

Since 2006, the Single Market has been impacting the lives of CARICOM nationals also through free movement of goods, the provision of services, the free movement of capital and the right of establishment. Currently Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago are participating in the Single Market. Haiti is currently working towards effectively participating in the CSME. Montserrat, which is a British Dependency, is seeking the necessary instrument of entrustment from the United Kingdom. Even though The Bahamas is not participating in the CSME, many teachers and other categories of skilled professionals from CARICOM Member States have lived and worked in the chain of Caribbean Islands.

CARICOM Heads of Government discussed the status of the CSME when they met in Georgetown, Guyana, in early July, and mandated a comprehensive review of the programme, as well as an intensified public information campaign on its benefits and provisions. The Heads of Government are fully committed to implementing all elements of the CSME regime since they remain convinced it is the only option to achieve sustainable growth and development.

The idea of a seamless regional economic space could begin to bear greater fruit should the private sector see the benefits of combining resources, Ms. Field-Ridley said.

Ms. Field-Ridley recalled that when the CSME was conceived, the architects were conscious of the challenges posed by an increasingly globalised world in which goods and services had to compete at much higher standards to remain viable.

She noted that while the CSME arrangement was intended to enhance efficiency and competitive production of goods and services for the regional market, it was also a vital integration arrangement that allowed CARICOM to more effectively engage in external economic trade relations, having put itself in a more competitive position.

Through the CSME, one of the best-known enterprises in Guyana’s rice industry, the ‘Karibee Rice’ brand, currently supplies this staple to the Region. Mr. Mohindra Persaud, General Manager of the company noted that the movement was free and the market was facilitated through the CSME.

Mr. Ramesh Dookoo, President of the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC) and the Honorary Secretary and Head of Trade and Investment of the Guyana Private Sector Commission, said that while the CSME had the potential to expand and develop local business in a large way, “development has not occurred equitably.”

The Community has established a CARICOM Competition Policy which includes Competition Law. The Policy has as its objective, to promote and maintain competition and enhance economic efficiency in production, trade and commerce.

To ensure that actions by enterprises do not reduce the benefits to be derived from the CSME, the CARICOM Competition Policy prohibits anti-competitive business conduct which prevents, restricts and distorts competition. This policy also promotes and protects consumer welfare. Competition Law discourages conduct which undermines competition and is therefore one of the key measure needed to support the proper functioning of markets.

It is the responsibility of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to ensure that these laws are observed in the interpretation and applications of the Revised Treaty.

Caricom Today