Calls deepen for CARICOM to make greater impact following BREXIT

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As the analysis of the ‘BREXIT’ continues, pressure is rising for CARICOM to do more to show its effectiveness and therefore avoid a similar referendum which led to Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU).

In his weekly blog, former speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran: noting that the failure to educate persons on the benefits of the EU as well as mismanagement lead to voters casting their ballot in favor of leaving, warned Caricom countries against the same mistakes.

“It is the internal strains and pressures and the failure over decades to inform the British people of the value and benefits of the European Community that have resulted in this disaster. Unless Caricom countries find ways not only to make Caricom’s benefits real but to continuously inform the public of the great advantages and benefits that the Caribbean Community brings to its members, it must not be surprised if its survival is later threatened” Ramkarran said.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge in an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA) recently also expressed the view that CARICOM needs to do more to be effective, through stronger mechanisms, dialogue and greater awareness.

Greenidge noted without Caricom, “There would be less trade between the countries, there would be lower incomes generated.”

He said, however Caricom needs to ensure that member states “find it worth their while” being a part of the unit, adding that “it is an issue that is relevant to the sharing of benefits to the extent that mechanisms are not in place to ensure that benefits accrued into one country or to one sector can be shared then it does act as a sort of a drag on attempts to integrate.”

In his blog, Mr. Ramkarran pointed out that the CARICOM project is stalled on the issue of free movement, stopping at the free movement of professionals.

He listed several problems with CARICOM including Barbados and Trinidad’s fear that unrestricted migration will harm their economies and create social problems, and as a result their restrictive entry conditions have caused friction countries like Jamaica and Guyana, many of whose residents take the opportunity to work illegally in their countries.

Pointing to the Shanique Myrie Case in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in which it ruled that under the Caricom Treaty, Caricom countries cannot deny entry to citizens unless stringent conditions are satisfied, he noted that both Trinidad and Barbados violate the decision every day.

Strains also exist between Caricom countries because of uneven development, he said. “Poorer Caricom members felt insulted when former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persaud-Bissessar remarked early in her term that Trinidad is not an ATM machine for other Caricom countries.”

A synonym of underlying difficulties, he noted is also the refusal of most Caricom countries to sign on to the Caribbean Court of Justice, having initially agreed to its establishment.

Former Foreign Affairs Minister Oswald Harding recently insisted that the Jamaican government should follow the UK’s referendum on the European Union and hold a similar one on whether Jamaica should remain in CARICOM, pointing to the violation of the free movement of people agreement.

Some Jamaican manufacturers are also of the view that the free trade policy allows countries like Trinidad with large manufacturing sectors to dump cheap products on Jamaica.

The results of the referendum held in Britain to determine whether or not it should remain in or leave the European Union (EU), has been won by voters who supported the leave option. The British economy is expected to plummet. A second referendum is currently in circulation urging a do-over EU referendum after a member of U.K. parliament called on the government to refuse to ratify the Brexit.: after the damage was done.

Caricom as a unit remains relevant, but it needs “to do a lot more” to strengthen its effectiveness in the region. This view was shared by Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge in an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA).

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