CARICOM countries advised against exit
CARICOM Deputy Secretary-General Dr. Manorma Soeknandan says CARICOM should not go through the recent experience whereby the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union (EU).
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a Regional Technical Meeting on the implementation of 10th European Development Fund (EDF) CSME and Economic Integration Programme recently, she noted that CARICOM Members must stand in integration.
Dr. Soeknandan said “we need all to be on board, CARICOM Members must stand in integration together and be committed together, struggle together and together achieve.”
The CARICOM Deputy Secretary-General noted that if “CARICOM has challenges, hurdles…together putting our shoulders under those will only make us stronger…losing one is not the answer.” She hopes that CARICOM will never have to deal with what the EU is now undergoing and said this is another reason for the regional technical meeting to solve certain issues.
Following the recent move by Britain to leave the EU, Former Foreign Affairs Minister of Jamaica, Oswald Harding insisted that the Jamaican government follow the UK’s referendum on 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.
Some disadvantages faced by CARICOM states like Guyana and Jamaica were recently pointed out by former speaker of Guyana’s National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran in his weekly blog. 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 in countries like Jamaica and Guyana, many of whose residents take the opportunity to work illegally in their countries.
Head of the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to the Eastern Caribbean Countries, OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, Ambassador Mikael Barfod also supported the call for integration, noting that the EU knows firsthand how integration can benefit small countries although the process is not a quick achievement. He said the challenges related to regional integration is well worth taking even though it at times has a gloomy reputation.
He commended the CARICOM Deputy Secretary-General for taking the initiative in having the regional technical meeting and reminded that the EU stands with CARICOM on the important endeavor of regional integration.
Speaking about challenges posed to the region as a result of BREXIT, he stated that there could be some consequences for the Caribbean too, such as renegotiations of trade deals with the United Kingdom (UK). Ambassador Barfod noted that the UK is a major trading partner for many CARICOM Member States.