Caribbean welcomes single market

Caribbean leaders have welcomed a free-trade zone designed to allow goods, services and skilled workers to move more easily throughout the region.

    Six Carribean nations have become the first members to join

    Six nations - Jamaica, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago - became the first full members of the Caribbean Single Market Economy as the treaty went into effect on 1 January. Other nations were expected to join later.

    Owen Arthur, the prime minister of Barbados, is one of the strongest advocates of a trade accord that supporters say will make the Caribbean nations more competitive in an era of free trade. "To put together a single market and economy is a historic thing," he said.

    Edwin Carrington, secretary-general of the 15-member Caribbean Community, said the agreement is "an important psychological and political step for this region" even though less than half the community's membership was ready to enter the trade accord by 1 January.

    Another six nations of the 15-member Caribbean Community will join the single economy by the end of March, Patrick Manning, Trinidad's prime minister, said on Monday.

    Other countries

    "This really gives the business community something to aim for. It is a huge market available to us"

    David Lord, Carribean Community Secretariat

    The British territory of Montserrat, which is also a member of the Caribbean Community, is seeking permission from the United Kingdom to become a part of the single market.

    Haiti has been suspended from the Caribbean Community because of its political turmoil and will not join the market, while the Bahamas will not join because of local opposition to a provision that allows skilled workers to move more easily among nations.

    Under the trade accord, tariffs will be eliminated among participating members and all citizens can open businesses, provide services and move capital throughout the region without restrictions. The governments are to replace national travel documents with a regional passport by 2007.

    Economic zone

    Member nations will have access to bilateral free-trade agreements that the Caribbean Community has already made with Colombia, Cuba, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

    David Lord, a single market expert with the Guyana-based Caribbean Community Secretariat, said: "This really gives the business community something to aim for. It is a huge market available to us."

    Caribbean prime ministers will officially inaugurate the single trading market at a ceremony in Kingston, Jamaica, on 23 January.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    Almost 300 people died in Mogadishu but some are asking why there was less news coverage and sympathy on social media.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Kobe Steel: A scandal made in Japan

    Kobe Steel: A scandal made in Japan

    Japan's third-largest steelmaker has admitted it faked data on parts used in cars, planes and trains.