House to debate Caricom report today

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica— The House of Representatives will debate the Report of the Commission to Review Jamaica's Relations within the Caricom and CARIFORUM Frameworks when it resumes at Gordon House this afternoon.

The commission, chaired by former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, was asked by Prime Minister Andrew Holness to conduct an in-depth examination of the Caribbean Community's (Caricom's) performance, while identifying the aspects of regional engagements within the community that have not met their intended objectives, in line with the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, to advance the regional integration process.

Additionally, the commission was asked to evaluate the effects of Jamaica's membership in Caricom on the country's economic growth and development, with particular reference to trade in goods and services, investment, international competitiveness, and job creation.

It was established on June 20, 2016. The comprehensive Report of the Commission was presented to Holness on March 30, 2017, and tabled in the House of Representatives on February 6 this year.

It includes 33 recommendations which, according to Holness, were 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).

Among the recommendations were for full free movement of people throughout Caricom countries, 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; implementation of a harmonised investment policy and incentives framework; and the development of a regional investment code. Responding to the report then, leader of the Opposition Dr Peter Phillips described the periodic review as necessary, and reiterated his party's commitment to regionalism.

“We believe there is scope for a review and redefinition of significant Caricom institutions,” Phillips said.

Holness said that he is looking forward to discussing the report with his Caricom colleague Heads of Government, and receiving their feedback, as well as the feedback from the Secretariat.

This is likely to be achieved when he chairs the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caricom at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, Montego Bay, July 4-6, under Jamaica's chairmanship. Holness assumes leadership of Caricom on July 1.

Balford Henry

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