Caribbean Community

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Caribbean Community
  • Caribische Gemeenschap  (Dutch)
  • Communauté Caribéenne  (French)
  • Comunidad del Caribe  (Spanish)
Dark green: Full CARICOM members.Lime green: Associate CARICOM members.Pistachio: Observers.
Dark green: Full CARICOM members.
Lime green: Associate CARICOM members.
Pistachio: Observers.
Seat of Secretariat Guyana Georgetown, Guyana
Official languages English, Spanish, French, Dutch
Type Supranational organisation
Member states
Leaders
 -  Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque
 -  Chairman Ralph Gonsalves
Establishment
 -  Treaty of Chaguaramas 4 July 1973 
 -  Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas 2001 
Area
 -  Total 458,480 km2
177,020 sq mi
Population
 -  2010 estimate 16,743,693
 -  Density 34.8/km2
90/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $107.82 billion
 -  Per capita $6,439
GDP (nominal) 2010 estimate
 -  Total $64,771 billion (65)
 -  Per capita $8,116 (67)
HDI (2012) Increase 0.719[1]
high
Website
caricom.org

Established in 1973, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is an organization of 15 Caribbean nations and dependencies. CARICOM's main purposes are to promote economic integration and cooperation among its members, to ensure that the benefits of integration are equitably shared, and to coordinate foreign policy.[2] Its major activities involve coordinating economic policies and development planning; devising and instituting special projects for the less-developed countries within its jurisdiction; operating as a regional single market for many of its members (Caricom Single Market); and handling regional trade disputes. The secretariat headquarters is based in Georgetown, Guyana.

Since the establishment of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) by the mainly English-speaking parts of the Caribbean region, CARICOM has become multilingual in practice with the addition of Dutch speaking-Suriname on 4 July 1995 and French- (and Haitian Kreyòl-) speaking Haiti on 2 July 2002. Furthermore, it was suggested that Spanish should also become a working language.[3] In July 2012, CARICOM announced that they were considering making French and Dutch official languages.[4]

In 2001, the heads of government signed a Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas thus clearing the way for the transformation of the idea for a Common Market aspect of CARICOM into instead a Caribbean (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy. Part of the revised treaty among member states includes the establishment and implementation of the Caribbean Court of Justice. Since 2013 the CARICOM-bloc along with the Dominican Republic is tied to the European Commission via an Economic Partnership Agreements known as CARIFORUM signed in 2008.[5] The treaty grants all members of the European Union and CARIFORUM equal rights in terms of trade and investment. Within the agreement under Article 234, the European Court of Justice also carries dispute resolution mechanisms between CARIFORUM and the European Union states.[6]

History[edit]

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), originally the Caribbean Community and Common Market, was established by the Treaty of Chaguaramas[7] which came into effect on 1 August 1973. The first four signatories were Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago.

CARICOM superseded the 1965–1972 Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA), which had been organised to provide a continued economic linkage between the English-speaking countries of the Caribbean following the dissolution of the West Indies Federation which lasted from 3 January 1958 to 31 May 1962.

A Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas[8] establishing the Caribbean Community including the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) was signed by the CARICOM Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community on 5 July 2001 at their Twenty-Second Meeting of the Conference in Nassau, The Bahamas.

Membership[edit]

Currently CARICOM has 15 full members, 5 associate members and 8 observers. All of the associate members are British overseas territories, and it is currently not established what the role of the associate members will be. The observers are states which engage in at least one of CARICOM's technical committees.

CARICOM Members
Status Name Join date Notes
Full member  Antigua and Barbuda 4 July 1974
 Bahamas 4 July 1983 Not part of customs union
 Barbados 1 August 1973
 Belize 1 May 1974
 Dominica 1 May 1974
 Grenada 1 May 1974
 Guyana 1 August 1973
 Haiti 2 July 2002 Provisional membership on 4 July 1998
 Jamaica 1 August 1973
 Montserrat 1 May 1974 British overseas territory
 Saint Kitts and Nevis 26 July 1974 Joined as Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla
 Saint Lucia 1 May 1974
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1 May 1974
 Suriname 4 July 1995
 Trinidad and Tobago 1 August 1973
Associate  Anguilla July 1999 British overseas territory
 Bermuda 2 July 2003 British overseas territory
 British Virgin Islands July 1991 British overseas territory
 Cayman Islands 16 May 2002 British overseas territory
 Turks and Caicos Islands July 1991 British overseas territory
Observer  Aruba Country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
 Colombia
 Curaçao Country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
 Dominican Republic
 Mexico
 Puerto Rico Commonwealth of the USA
 Sint Maarten Country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
 Venezuela

Anguilla[edit]

In July 1999, Anguilla once again became involved with CARICOM when it gained associate membership. Before this, Anguilla had briefly been a part of CARICOM (1974–1980) as a constituent of the full member state of Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla.

Dominican Republic[edit]

The Dominican Republic cooperates with CARICOM (since 1992) under an umbrella organisation, CARIFORUM, an economic pact between CARICOM and the Dominican Republic with the EU.[9] The Dominican Republic became an Observer of CARICOM in 1982 and in 1991 it presented CARICOM with a request for full membership.[10] It also has an unratified free trade agreement (from 2001) with CARICOM. Within the EPA between the region and the European Commission, the Dominican Republic is given means for dispute resolution with CARICOM member-states. Under Article 234, the European Court of Justice also carries dispute resolution mechanisms between CARIFORUM and the European Union states.[6] This is particularly useful to the Dominican Republic which is not a member of the Caribbean Court of Justice and therefore cannot use the CCJ for dispute resolution with states of CARICOM.

In 2005 the Foreign Minister of the Dominican Republic proposed for the second time that the government of the Dominican Republic wished to obtain full membership status in CARICOM. However, due to the sheer size of the Dominican Republic's population and its economy being almost as large as all the current CARICOM states combined and coupled with the Dominican Republic's checkered history of foreign policy solidarity with the CARICOM states, it is unclear whether the CARICOM states will unanimously vote to admit the Dominican Republic as a full member into the organisation. CARICOM has been working at great pains in trying to integrate with Haiti. It has been proposed that CARICOM may deepen ties with the Dominican Republic through the auspice of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) instead, which is an organisation that stops just short of the Single market and economy which underpins CARICOM.

In July 2013, The President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, indicated that his country was still interested in joining CARICOM and appealed to CARICOM leaders meeting in Trinidad for the 40th anniversary of CARICOM to admit his country into the organization.[11] His bid drew the support of Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister and the then Chairwoman of CARICOM, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who addressed the others CARICOM heads of government by saying “The ongoing reform process in the community must be one that will make CARICOM not only more efficient and effective but more relevant as well. In this regard, may I urge you to consider expanding our membership to welcome the Dominican Republic into the CARICOM family.” It is not clear whether the CARICOM Heads of Government will agree, but the move could prove critical as the Dominican Republic increasingly allies itself both with Latin America and Central America, having become a full member state of the Central American Integration System in late June 2013 (it was previously an associate member).[12] The call for the Dominican Republic to be admitted as a full member of CARICOM was given a boost by the position of the Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart, who confirmed that the Dominican Republic was re-committed “to joining the movement at such time that it would be convenient for all the perceivable imperatives to be satisfied,” and that “I agree with the Prime Minister that the larger the bloc becomes, the more powerful the bloc becomes and the more diversified the areas for joint action and for integration.” Stuart also remarked that it was a healthy development when Suriname and Haiti joined the movement and that the Heads of Government want to quicken the momentum in the expansion of CARICOM to countries without British heritage.[13]

In November 2013, CARICOM announced that it would "suspend consideration of the request by the Dominican Republic for membership of the Caribbean Community" in response to a Dominican court ruling which revoked citizenship from tens of thousands, mostly descendants from illegal immigrants from Haiti.[14][15]

French Caribbean[edit]

France administers several territories in the Caribbean that are not associated with CARICOM, and are instead part of the European Union: Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint-Martin, Saint Barthélemy and French Guiana. The CARICOM-DR-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) may provide these areas with access to CARICOM markets. It was announced during summer of 2012 that Martinique, a CARICOM observer, was on its way to become an Associate Member. The Foreign Minister of France, Laurent Fabius, agreed to Martinique being an associate member of CARICOM.[citation needed]

Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and the Netherlands[edit]

Aruba is an observer of CARICOM, as was the Netherlands Antilles before its dissolution in 2010. No official report has been published on the eligibility for observer status of the Caribbean countries Curaçao and Sint Maarten and the 3 special municipalities of the Netherlands formed by the split.

The Netherlands Antilles had applied for the status of associate membership in 2005,[16] and both Curaçao and Sint Maarten launched applications to become associate members in CARICOM after their secession.[17] In February 2012, the Prime Minister of Sint Maarten, Sarah Wescot-Williams said she was pleased that a working group had been set up in Caricom to examine St. Maarten's request for associate membership and was looking forward to its report.[18] former Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC) Secretary Ludwig Ouenniche said the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce, of which he also served as a board member, has been "aggressive in advising" the St. Maarten government to move towards a closer relationship with CARICOM over the years due to the Chamber's membership in the CAIC. The benefits for St. Maarten are vast, especially the ability to tap into funding and programmes not accessible now because of non-membership, he added. Caricom countries are benefiting from European Union funding and other sources of financing shut off to St. Maarten because of its constitutional position as a country within the Dutch Kingdom; associate membership would clear this barrier. Among the benefits would be access to cheaper generic medication to treat, for example, HIV/AIDS thanks to Caricom agreements and programmes. What makes this move even more important is the benefit the country would be able to reap for the large number of people living in St. Maarten who are originally from Caricom member countries; according to Ouenniche "some 65 per cent" of St. Maarten's population is of Caricom origin.[19]

United States Virgin Islands[edit]

In 2007, the U.S. Virgin Islands government announced it would begin seeking ties with CARICOM.[20] At the time It was not clear what membership status the USVI would obtain should they join CARICOM with the most likely possibility being observer status, considering fellow U.S. Caribbean territory Puerto Rico's current observer status. In 2012, it was confirmed by the USVI Commissioner of Tourism, Beverly Nicholson-Doty, that the U.S. Virgin Islands government has been lobbying for observer status within CARICOM.[21]

At a meeting of the Caribbean Tourism Organization in Martinique on October 19, 2013, the Governor of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) John de Jongh said his administration has drafted legislation that will allow visitors from the CARICOM full members and associate members to enter that territory without a US visa. This comes as part of the USVI government’s plans to encourage more CARICOM nationals to visit the USVI.[22]

de Jongh said the proposal has received bi-partisan support in the US House of Representatives[23] as well as support the Senate and the Department of Homeland Security,[22] but admits he doesn't know how soon the regime could be implemented, noting the pace of legislation in the US Congress.[22][23]

The governor is, however, confident of a positive outcome having already had discussions on the subject with officials from the US Department of Homeland Security “to come up with a regime which they will feel comfortable with.”[23]

de Jongh said the US Virgin Islands wants closer relations with the 15-member CARICOM grouping[24] and wants an opportunity to share in the movement of Caribbean nationals throughout the region[22] and is convinced that making travel easier for Caricom countries' nationals will be beneficial to the territories.[23]

“We recognise that with respect to sports tourism, sailing events and shopping, the region presents tremendous opportunity,” De Jongh told regional journalists.[23]

The initiative by de Jongh is actually not new having been first launched in 2012,[25] when de Jongh was quoted as saying that the “waivers would be specifically for individuals who are traveling for sporting events, medical services, and general tourism”.[26]

de Jongh is further quoted as saying: “We fully believe that such a change would broaden our reach into neighboring Caribbean markets. The territory’s sporting events are growing in popularity and prestige, especially for competitions in volleyball, track, tennis, swimming and sailing. An amendment to the immigration bill would allow for easier travel for athletes, as well as for individuals seeking top-notch medical care or just looking for a great place for a vacation, that is close to home.”[26]

The current bill (entitled The Virgin Islands Visa Waiver Act of 2013)[27] was introduced into the US House of Representatives on May 14, 2013 and was referred to the House Judiciary's Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.[28]

Caricom nationals would still require a visa to travel to the US mainland and other US territories.[23]

Relationship to other supranational Caribbean organisations[edit]

Supranational Caribbean Organisations

Relations[edit]

Haiti invasion[edit]

In March 2004, tensions became strained between member-state Haiti and the rest of the Caribbean Community bloc. Democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide phoned some of the other 14 CARICOM heads of government and stated that he had been kidnapped by France and the United States and taken out of the country.[29][30] CARICOM announced that no democratically elected government in CARICOM should have its leader deposed. The 14 other heads of government sought to have Aristide visit Jamaica and share his account of events with them. This move to have Jean-Bertrand Aristide flown from Africa to Jamaica infuriated the unelected interim Prime Minister, Gérard Latortue who then announced he would be taking steps to remove Haiti from CARICOM. The CARICOM heads then announced they would be holding a vote on whether to suspend the recognition of Latortue before he could vote on Haiti leaving CARICOM. This occurred and Haitian officials became suspended partaking in the councils of CARICOM. This did not stop Latortue, who announced that he would continue a part of his plan to suspend Haiti from CARICOM.[31] Haiti's membership had been effectively suspended from 29 February 2004 through early June 2006. Following the democratic election of Haitian President René Préval, he gave the opening address at the organisation's Council of Ministers meeting in July.

Statistics[edit]

Population and economic statistics of full members
Member Membership Land area (km2)[32] Population[33][34] GDP (PPP) Millions USD[35][36] GDP Per Capita USD (2012)[37][38] HDI (2012)[39]
 Anguilla associate 91 13,477 0.108 8,800
 Antigua & Barbuda full member 442.6 89,018 1,535 17,500 0.760
 Aruba observer 180 106,000 2,400 21,800
 Bahamas full member 10,010 316,182 11,040 31,300 0.794
 Barbados full member 430 287,733 7,091 25,500 0.825
 Belize full member 22,806 327,719 2,896 8,400 0.702
 Bermuda associate 54 67,837 5,085 91,477
 British Virgin Islands associate 151 24,000 0.840 38,500
 Cayman Islands associate 264 56,000 1,939 43,800
 Colombia observer 1,109,104 44,928,970 396,579 8,400
 Curaçao observer 444 142,180 2,914 20,567
 Dominica full member 751 73,126 1,035 14,600 0.745
 Dominican Republic observer 48,320 9,523,209 76,304 8,570
 Grenada full member 344 109,011 1,471 14,100 0.770
 Guyana full member 196,849 741,908 6,164 8,000 0.636
 Haiti full member 27,560 9,801,664 13,130 1,300 0.456
 Jamaica full member 10,831 2,889,187 25,180 9,100 0.730
 Mexico observer 1,943,945 111,211,789 1,548,007 14,560 0.775
 Montserrat full member 102 5,164 0.043 8,500 0.821
 Puerto Rico[40] observer 8,870 3,791,913 96,300 24,229 0.905
 Saint Kitts and Nevis full member 261 50,726 0.890 15,500 0.745
 Saint Lucia full member 606 162,178 2,234 13,200 0.725
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines full member 389 103,537 1,301 11,900 0.733
 Sint Maarten observer 34 37,429 0.400 11,400
 Suriname full member 156,000 560,157 6,685 12,300 0.684
 Trinidad and Tobago full member 5,128 1,226,383 27,120 20,400 0.760
 Turks and Caicos Islands associate 948 36,600 0.845 6,400 0.873
 Venezuela observer 882,050 28,199,825 358,623 12,785 0.748
Full members members only 432,510 16,743,693 107,815 6,439 0.719
Total whole 432,510 16,743,693 107,815 6,439 0.719

Organizational structure[edit]

Structures comprised by the overall Caribbean Community (CARICOM).[41]

Under Article 4 CARICOM breaks its 15 member states into two groups: Less Developed Countries (LDCs) and More Developed Countries (MDCs).[8]

The countries of CARICOM which are designated as Less Developed Countries (LDCs) are:[8]

  • Antigua & Barbuda
  • Belize
  • Commonwealth of Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Republic of Haiti
  • Montserrat
  • Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent & the Grenadines

The countries of CARICOM which are designated as More Developed Countries (MDCs) are:[8]

  • Commonwealth of the Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Co-operative Republic of Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Republic of Suriname
  • Republic of Trinidad & Tobago

Chairmanship[edit]

The post of Chairman (Head of CARICOM) is held in rotation by the regional Heads of State (for the republics) and Heads of Government (for the realms) of CARICOM's 15 member states.

Heads of government[edit]

CARICOM contains a quasi-Cabinet of the individual Heads of Government. These heads are given specific specialised portfolios of responsibility for overall regional development and integration.[42]

Secretariat[edit]

The goal statement of the CARICOM Secretariat is:

To provide dynamic leadership and service, in partnership with Community institutions and Groups, toward the attainment of a viable, internationally competitive and sustainable Community, with improved quality of life for all.

Organs and bodies[edit]

Principal organs
Organ Description
CARICOM Heads of Government Consisting of the various heads of Government from each member state
Standing Committee of Ministers Ministerial responsibilities for specific areas, for example the Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for Health will consist of Ministers of Health from each member state

Community Council[edit]

The Council consists of Ministers responsible for Community Affairs and any other Minister designated by the Member States in their absolute discretion. It is one of the principal organs (the other being the Conference of the Heads of Government) and is supported by four other organs and three bodies.

Secondary organs
Secondary organ Abbreviation
Council for Finance and Planning COFAP
Council for Foreign and Community Relations COFCOR
Council for Human and Social Development COHSOD
Council for Trade and Economic Development COTED
Bodies
Body Description
Legal Affairs Committee provides legal advice to the organs and bodies of the Community
Budget Committee examines the draft budget and work programme of the Secretariat and submits recommendations to the Community Council.
Committee of the Central Bank Governors provides recommendations to the COFAP on monetary and financial matters.

Institutions[edit]

The twenty three designated institutions of CARICOM are as follows:

Institutions
Institution Abbreviation
Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency CDERA
Caribbean Meteorological Institute CMI
Caribbean Meteorological Organisation CMO
Caribbean Food Corporation CFC
Caribbean Environment Health Institute CEHI
Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute CARDI
Caribbean Regional Centre for the Education and training of Animal Health and Veterinary Public Health Assistants REPAHA
Assembly of Caribbean Community Parliamentarians ACCP
Caribbean Centre for Development Administration CARICAD
Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute CFNI
CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security IMPACS
Caribbean Examinations Council CXC
CARICOM Single Market and Economy CSME
Caribbean Court of Justice CCJ
CARICOM Competition Commission CCC
Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism CRFM
Caribbean Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality CROSQ
Caribbean Telecommunications Union CTU
Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre CCCCC
Caribbean Organisation of Tax Administrators COTA
Council of Legal Education CLE
Caribbean Aviation Safety and Securing Oversight System CASSOS
Caribbean Regional Information and Translation Institute CRITI

The Caribbean Court of Justice will act in its "original jurisdiction", as settlement unit for disputes on the functioning of the Caribbean (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME). Additionally the states of CARICOM voted to supplement original jurisdiction with "appellate jurisdiction" under this the former colonies of the United Kingdom will have effectively replaced the Privy Council in London, United Kingdom with the CCJ.[citation needed]

The CCJ is based in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The majority of member states[which?] however, continue to utilize the Privy Council as their final appellate court and three member states do not use the CCJ for either its original jurisdiction or its appellate jurisdiction because they have either not signed the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (the Bahamas and Haiti) or are a current British colony (Montserrat).

Associate institutions[edit]

The five designated associate institutions of CARICOM are as follows:

Associate institutions
Associate institution Abbreviation
Caribbean Development Bank CDB
University of Guyana UG
University of the West Indies UWI
Caribbean Law Institute / Caribbean Law Institute Centre CLI / CLIC
Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States OECS
West Indies Cricket Board WICB

Projects[edit]

Single Market and Economy[edit]

  CARICOM members part of CSM
  CARICOM members not part of CSM
  CARICOM associate members

Three countries—Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago—had originally set 5 January 2005 as the date of signing the agreement relating to the (CSME). The ceremony had then been rescheduled to coincide with the 19 February 2005 inauguration of the new CARICOM-headquarters building in Georgetown, Guyana, but this was later postponed after a ruling[which?] by the London Privy council caused alarm to several Caribbean countries.

The prospect was that ten of the remaining twelve CARICOM countries would join the CSME by the end of 2005. The Bahamas and Haiti were not expected to be a part of the new economic arrangement at that time. The CARICOM Secretariat maintains frequent contact with another organisation named the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), which represents seven Full members and two Associate members of CARICOM in the Eastern Caribbean. Many of the OECS countries are seeking to maintain themselves as a micro-economic grouping within CARICOM.

The CARICOM Single Market and Economy treaty finally went into effect on 1 January 2006, with Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago as the first full members. On 3 July 2006, the total membership was brought up to twelve when Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines became full members. The British overseas territory of Montserrat is seeking permission from the United Kingdom to become a part of the single market; Haiti will not join the market initially because of its difficult internal political situation; and the Bahamas will not join because of local opposition to a provision that allows skilled workers to move more easily among nations.

Common Passport[edit]

  Members with common passport implemented
  Members without common passport
  Associate members

As of early 2009 twelve Member States have introduced CARICOM passports. These states are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.[43][44][45] CARICOM members yet to issue the common passports are Bahamas, Montserrat and Haiti. Citizens of Montserrat are citizens of the United Kingdom, so it is unlikely that the common passport will be introduced there.

The CARICOM passport creates awareness that CARICOM nationals are nationals of the Community, as well as a specific country.

Reciprocal Social Security Agreement[edit]

On 1 March 1996, the CARICOM Agreement on Social Security was signed in Georgetown, Guyana and it came into effect on 1 April 1997.[46] From that date persons have been eligible to apply for and receive benefits under the Agreement.[47] The Agreement is intended to protect CARICOM nationals’ entitlement to benefits and provide equality of treatment when moving from one country to another. The Agreement is seen as key in facilitating the free movement of labour within the CARICOM Single Market, but it applies to all persons who are moving to work or have worked in two or more countries that have implemented the Agreement including any which are not a part of the Single Market.[48]

The Agreement is in effect in the following CARICOM Member States: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. It is not in effect in Suriname or Haiti.[48]

The Agreement allows CARICOM countries to coordinate their social security programmes and provides for payments of death benefits and of pensions for invalidity, disablement, old age/retirement and survivors’ benefits.[47][48]

A CARICOM national who is a wage earner, must be insured in the Member State where he or she is employed and must therefore make contributions to the respective social security organization. He/She is entitled to the same benefits as nationals of the host country.[49]

When going to another CARICOM Member State to work, persons should inform the Directors of the Social Security Organizations in their home country and host country. The date of departure and overseas address should be presented. This enables the accurate capturing of contributions and payment of benefits while residing in the host country. One should also inform that Organization of any subsequent change of address. Upon returning to the usual place of residence, the home Organization should be notified.[48]

If a CARICOM national is insured under the Scheme of one country, e.g. Jamaica, and at the same time that national is permitted to voluntary contribute to another compulsory insurance scheme, the national will be insured under the first country’s scheme only (in this case Jamaica).

If the CARICOM national is permitted to voluntarily contribute to two or more compulsory insurance schemes, that national is entitled to be insured under the scheme in the country where he/she resides. If he/she does not live in one of the CARICOM countries, he/she should be insured under the scheme of the country where he/she last worked.[50]

Migrant or travelling workers are usually at a disadvantage when they leave a particular country without making sufficient contributions to qualify for benefits. The Agreement therefore also ensures that the rights and obligations of certain workers are secured.[48] Hence, the Social Security Schemes require all employed persons to register and to make National Insurance contributions to the respective social security organization. The categories of workers covered under the Agreement are as follows:[50]

  • Workers in Transnational Enterprises
  • Workers in International Transport
  • Workers on Ships
  • Workers in Diplomatic Missions, Consulates and International Organizations
  • Self-employed Persons
  • Itinerant Workers (Workers travelling from country to country)[50]

The Agreement protects all entitlements to long term benefits by providing for the totaling of all the contributions which were paid to the respective Social Security Organizations in Member States, where a national previously worked. Suriname is the exception since it does not have a comparable social security system.[49]

In the event of a withdrawal from or termination of the CARICOM Social Security Agreement, all rights acquired will be maintained/honoured and negotiations will take place for the settlement of any rights.[51]

Caribbean Exchange Network (CXN)[edit]

The proposal for a regional trading platform or stock exchange was initially raised in 1989, and then again in the 1990s during ongoing discussions for the Caribbean Single Market and Economy, but it was not realized.[52] In 2006 the idea was again brought up in a regional stock market conference. At the conference it was noted that at the time the region contained several small separate Caribbean stock exchanges including that of Bahamas, Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean (itself a regional securities exchange), Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago, each with relatively high transaction costs, low liquidity, a relatively small number of listed companies, and a few securities dominating trading on an exchange, while legislation and trading rules varied across the region.[53] It was argued that the best way to improve liquidity was through a common trading platform approach, with CARICOM-wide connectivity using state-of-the-art technology connecting local brokers (intermediaries) in the multiple stock markets through a single network. This would create a fair and well-informed market for financial securities, and ultimately an internationally competitive market. By interconnecting the stock exchanges of the region a single regional capital market would be created. It would also avoid one of the main hurdles against having a single Caribbean Stock Exchange, that being the fact that the established Exchanges were not likely to make themselves voluntarily redundant. It would also widen the scope of operations of all the regional exchanges as each participating exchange would give their brokers access to the companies listed on all the others' boards.[53]

Work continued on the establishment of the system, now dubbed the Caribbean Exchange Network (CXN)[52] with initial hopes that it could be implemented by late 2007 with approximately 120 listed securities. However that timetable was dependent on how quickly securities regulators in Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados could sign off on the enabling documents and agreements on which they have asked for clarifications.[54] By December 2007 regulators were still mulling over the documents and the hope was for full implementation in 2008.[55] The April 3, 2008 start-up date was missed as a result of takeover activity in the region's capital markets (involving companies such as WIBISCO, FirstCaribbean, Barbados Farms, the takeover bidding process for Barbados Shipping & Trading by Trinidadian industrial giant Neal & Massy and Royal Bank of Canada's buyout of RBTT) and delay on the part of regulators.[56] An agreement in 2008 to have the Bank of Nova Scotia as the settlement bank for regional stock market trades[57] also later fell through. Instead of a single settlement bank, each member dealer will now have to make arrangement to get their transaction settled either with their local national central bank or any other commercial bank of choice[52] Up to 2008, the Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago stock exchanges had collectively invested US$150,000 on the project.[58]

All outstanding issues were finally settled in January 2011 and the CXN got the approval of the various regional regulators and made its operational debut.[52][59] The CXN trading platform and support infrastructure had been in place since 2007.[57] It is now expected that trading on the platform will begin in 2012.[59] The CXN will allow brokers in each jurisdiction to access all the stock within the region from their desks, irrespective of where they are. But in the absence of a monetary union for Caricom they must transact the business in the currency of the home market of the listed security — for example, a Jamaican buying a TT stock would have to settle in TT dollars, with the security being held in the TT central securities depository.[52][54]

The initial participants in the CXN are the Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago stock exchanges with other jurisdictions are expected to join over time.[59] Modeled off the NOREX alliance, the CXN is governed by the Regional Caribbean Exchanges Network Agreement (to which the Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago stock exchanges are parties), Bank Settlement Service Agreement for the Caribbean Exchanges Network, Trading Access Agreement, CXN Broker-Client Agreement, and Deed of Accession.[58] The CXN is aimed at providing benefits for consumers and firms in terms of investment, operating costs, products and services and through reduction in administrative burden. It also aims to pull together the small fragmented markets in CARICOM; improve liquidity; enhance price discovery; encourage greater participation by Issuers, Intermediaries, and Investors; foster the growth of the domestic financial services sector; provide savers with greater opportunities to protect themselves against inflation; provide an additional channel for encouraging and mobilizing domestic savings; increase the overall efficiency of investment; and help reduce corporate dependence on borrowing and improve the gearing of the regional corporate sector. Trading by broker participants of the CXN takes place on the common state-of-the-art trading platform which gives the brokers access to an electronic order book for each company listed on the participant exchanges. Intermediaries will log into a participant exchange’s trading system and via an electronic gateway, place order(s) on that exchange. Settlement by brokers on CXN takes place in the common clearing and settlement system. This system gives brokers access to real-time client account information, electronic share book and other reporting facilities. The clearance and settlement platform is tightly-coupled with the trading system which facilitates real-time inventory and account verification. In this tightly-coupled environment, when an order entry occurs in the trading system, the settlement system will check to ensure that the participant inventory stipulated in the order exists. The result of this is that in order to sell shares in a particular jurisdiction the shares must be held in the depository of that jurisdiction. The three original participating exchanges already facilitate this process of transfer for cross-listed securities called Inter-CSD movements.[58]

Hassle Free Travel[edit]

In the Grand Anse Declaration of 1989,[60] Heads of Government agreed that from December 1990 all CARICOM nationals should be free to travel within the Community without the need for passports.[61]

The overwhelmingly popular support for this decision was conveyed to the West Indian Commission time and time again throughout its consultations and as a result, the issue of hassle-free travel was identified by the Commission in its 1991 Progress Report, as one of the six areas for immediate action.[61]

Hassle Free Travel refers to the freedom of CARICOM nationals to travel "into and within the jurisdiction of any Member State without harassment or the imposition of impediment". This is intended to foster a greater sense of community. It is also designed to encourage greater intra-CARICOM tourism.[61]

Implementing hassle free travel has not proven as easy as might be expected, however, given the need to reconcile the differing requirements within Member States (between the immigration and tourism departments, for example) and among Member States. The forms of identification that are acceptable to some Member States include: travel permits; ID cards with photographs; birth certificates; and, drivers’ licences. However, among the countries which accept these forms of identification, limits are still imposed with respect to the specific countries whose nationals will be allowed to use the facility.[61]

Two accompanying elements of hassle free travel are the use of common embarkation and disembarkation cards (E/D Cards), i.e. the forms which all persons entering Member States are required to complete (commonly referred to as immigration forms/cards), and the establishment of common lines at ports of entry for citizens, residents and CARICOM nationals. These lines are in place in all Member States apart from The Bahamas. In The Bahamas, people entering the country are free to use any line.[61]

At the Twenty-eighth meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government in July 2007 the Conference agreed that CARICOM nationals should be allowed an automatic six month stay on arrival in another CARICOM Member State. Antigua and Barbuda entered a reservation in this regard.[62]

In a landmark ruling[63][64][65][66] the Caribbean Court of Justice, acting in its original jurisdiction, awarded Jamaican national, Shanique Myrie, Bds$75,000 (US$37,500) damages to be paid by the government of Barbados. The CCJ found that Myrie had been wrongfully denied entry into Barbados, subjected to a humiliating cavity search and unlawfully detained overnight in a cell and expelled from Barbados.[66][67] In the course of its judgment, the CCJ laid out clear rules for the treatment of Caribbean nationals travelling throughout the region[64] and held that, unlike third country nationals, all CARICOM nationals (including those seeking entry pursuant to any of the free movement regimes i.e. Skilled Nationals, Right of Establishment and Provision of Services)[68] have a right to enter another CARICOM country for an automatic stay of six months “hassle free” or “without harassment or the imposition of impediments”.[66][68][69][70]

This right, the court stated, was derived from the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC) and the 2007 CARICOM decision made at the twenty-eighth meeting of the conference of heads of government of CARICOM.[66]

The CCJ has also outlined the grounds on which immigration and border officials across the region can deny access to CARICOM nationals.[66] The two exceptions to this right to an automatic six month stay and hassle free travel "without harassment or the imposition of impediments", which permits a Member State's immigration and border officials to refuse entry or a six month stay are:

  • where the CARICOM national is undesirable, or
  • to prevent the CARICOM national from becoming a charge on the public purse.[68]

However, immigration officials must apply these exceptions narrowly and on a case-by-case basis.[70] Barbadian officials highlighted several areas where Myrie herself had questionable circumstances in her attempt to enter Barbados.[71][72][73] Despite this, Member States must ensure that they adhere to Community law and standards in relation to the right of entry, even where their national laws may differ. The Court provided guidance for the application of these exceptions.[68]

The CCJ has stated that to consider a CARICOM national “undesirable” he/she must be a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society, such as the protection of public morals, maintenance of public order and safety, protection of life and health. The CCJ also suggested that a reasonable test for assessing such a threat is that, as a starting point, it must be shown that the visitor poses a threat to engage in activity prohibited by national law, and that nationals who engage in such activity are also prosecuted or sanctioned.[68]

A CARICOM Member State is also entitled to assess on a strict, narrow, case by case basis whether a visiting CARICOM National may become a charge on public funds during his/her stay in the country. An assessment of whether a CARICOM national is likely to become a charge on the public purse may consider whether the national appears to be in a position to support himself during his intended length of stay. The CCJ has indicated that in seeking to make such an assessment it is reasonable for authorities to assess whether the Community national has sufficient funds for the period the visitor intends to stay (as evidenced by his return ticket). The relevant factors may include cash, credit cards, access to funds, or being hosted in the receiving country. However, the Court has made it clear that it is not reasonable to require a visiting Community national to show sufficiency of funds for a period of six months if the national does not intend to stay that long. Immigration officials may therefore ask to see the return ticket, as evidence of the intended length of stay. If the national does not have a valid return ticket, the national may be given the opportunity to obtain one.[68]

It should be noted, however, that in the general application of the right of definite entry, that the purpose of the visit is irrelevant, once it is not unlawful.[68]

Other than the above exceptions which are to be interpreted strictly and narrowly, every CARICOM national is entitled to be admitted to enter a CARICOM country and for his passport to be stamped for six months, regardless of his intended length of visit (in-transit, meeting, visa request or otherwise). He is also within his rights to extend the duration of his ticket within the six month period if he so desires.[68]

CARICOM Nationals who are granted a six months definite stay cannot automatically –

  • stay indefinitely
  • take up residence
  • work without permission
  • provide services
  • establish a business[68]

A CARICOM National who wishes to stay beyond six months or conduct the above activities in another CARICOM country can only do so pursuant to the relevant Community regime, or national laws. A CARICOM National who wishes to change his/her status as a visitor during his stay, must apply to the appropriate authorities and provide the required documentation, as a CARICOM Skilled National or a service provider, or apply for a work permit or permission to reside. A Member State that receives such an application would do so in accordance with national law and Community law.[68]

Where a CARICOM National is being refused entry into another CARICOM country, the CCJ determined that the right to hassle free travel requires that the following procedures should be applied:[66][68]

  • The State must promptly give written reasons for a decision to refuse entry.
  • The State must inform the Community national of his or her right to challenge the decision.
  • The State must provide an effective and accessible appeal or review procedure with adequate safeguards to protect the rights of the person denied entry both administrative and judicial.
  • CARICOM nationals refused entry should have an opportunity to consult an attorney or a consular official of their country or to contact a family member.[68]

CARICOM Member States are required to ensure that the above procedures are applied, whether through legislation or administrative action.[68]

Following the Myrie verdict, it was announced that the Caribbean Court of Justice may lack power to enforce the ruling on Barbados or any other state.[74] However, some member states have already undertaken steps to implement the recommendations of the ruling[75][76][77] and the ruling itself was discussed by the member states' Attorneys-General at the CARICOM Legal Affairs Committee meeting on 29 November 2013[75] and was further discussed at the CARICOM Fourteenth Meeting of Officials on Free Movement of Skills and Facilitation of Travel, held from 11–12 December 2013 in Guyana.[76][78] At that meeting it was emphasized that the exemptions to the right of entry, identified in the judgment of the Caribbean Court of Justice, in the Shanique Myrie case, should be narrowly interpreted by the state.[78]

The Jamaican Foreign Affairs Ministry noted that the Secretariat has also been instructed to intensify the training and sensitization of immigration officials across the region, as soon as possible. It was agreed that Security, Legal and Immigration officials would also meet to formulate recommendations on implementation of the CCJ and related issues. The recommendations are expected to be presented at the next meeting of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on CSME issues.[78]

Travel Card[edit]

At the 28th CARICOM Heads of Government Conference[79] in Barbados it was agreed to implement a CARICOM travel card that will be issued to every CARICOM national except those on the Community's watch list. An implementation plan for the document will be put together and submitted to the Heads at the next inter-sessional meeting to be held in September. The card will virtually maintain the ‘single domestic space’ and holders will not need a passport, during inter-community travel.[80] The card will also allow a CARICOM national an automatic six-month stay in any territory within the bloc.[81] It is not expected to affect the security of the member countries, as any holder will be deported if he or she breaks the law.[80] Similar to the "Pass Cards" available in other parts of the world,[82] the new card would be the size of a credit card and will feature facial and fingerprinting biometrics – so upon arrival at an airport, travellers can swipe the card in the machine which will open the barrier allowing them to walk through.[80][81][82] The development and implementation of the CARIPASS travel card has been described by St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit as a "major step towards hassle-free travel".[83] In addition to being available to all CARICOM nationals, the card would be available to expatriates who have legal status in a member country. Their card would be time-bound in a way that is linked exclusively to the time of their legal status.[81][82] The cost of acquiring the card is to yet be determined, but the country leaders have agreed that the proceeds would go towards offsetting the cost of enhanced security at the ports.[81]

Caribbean Arrest Warrant[edit]

At the 28th Conference of the Heads of Government in July 2007, CARICOM leaders discussed the issue of crime and security and agreed to the implementation of a CARICOM Arrest Warrant Treaty (CAWT) and CARICOM Maritime and Airspace Agreement which were expected to be finalized by September 2007.[84] By April 2008, the Arrest Warrant Treaty was ready to be signed at the next annual summit in St. John's, Antigua.[85] At the 29th Conference of the Heads of Government in July 2008 the CARICOM Arrest Warrant Treaty along with other agreements that were ready at the time (including the Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System (CASSOS); the Agreement Establishing Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA); the Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Development Fund (CDF) and the Maritime and Airspace Security Co-operation Agreement) were signed by some member states,[86] namely Antigua & Barbuda and Trinidad & Tobago.[87][88]

The objective of the CAWT (which is similar to that of the European Arrest Warrant) is to establish within CARICOM a system of arrest and surrender of requested persons for the purposes of:

  • Conducting a criminal prosecution for an applicable offence; or
  • Executing a custodial sentence where the requested persons have fled from justice after being sentence for an applicable offence.[89]

Later in 2009 three more member states (Suriname, St. Lucia and St. Kitts & Nevis) signed on to the treaty.[90][91][92] In January 2013, the St. Lucian Commissioner of Police, Vernon Francis, called on all CARICOM members to fully sign on to and implement the treaty. He stated it was imperative given the widespread "increase in criminal activity we are seeing within the Community and ubiquitous nature of organized crime" and noted that "the full implementation of the pact will help to bring criminals to justice".[93] In February 2013, Trinidad & Tobago's Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, listed a number of initiatives, aimed at addressing crime in the Caribbean as a whole, which were agreed to at the Caricom Heads of Government meeting in Haiti. These included measures which would be adopted by the United States and CARICOM member states to address the issue of crime in the Caribbean as well as the adoption of a Regional Crime and Security Strategy.[94] One of the strategic goals of this Crime and Security Strategy is the establishment of appropriate Legal Instruments and ratification of existing Agreements, including the Caribbean Arrest Warrant Treaty.[89] To this end, Persad-Bissessar said requests will be made to attorneys general and ministers of national security to meet as a matter of urgency, with a view to putting this framework in place — particularly with respect to the Caricom Maritime and Airspace Security Cooperation Agreement and the Caricom Arrest Warrant Treaty.[94]

CARICOM Rapid Exchange System for Dangerous Non-food Consumer Goods (CARREX)[edit]

In 2012 CARICOM launched an online consumer-protection warning system which allows 13 million consumers in 14 Member States to alert authorities on dangerous products which they detect in the market.[95][96]

It is called the CARICOM Rapid Exchange System for Dangerous Non-food Consumer Goods, (CARREX) and was developed in response to concerns voiced by consumer bodies of the need to strengthen the Region’s market surveillance for unsafe consumer goods.[95] The concerns stemmed from the perceived increased permeability of the regional market to unsafe consumer products, which were facing growing difficulties in entering neighbouring territories where market surveillance systems were more effective. Such perceptions are supported by the fact that most industrialized countries do not have limitations in their law on the re-exportation of dangerous goods outside their frontiers once these have been identified at their borders.[97]

Mindful of the resource limitations of Member governments in establishing and operating adequate market surveillance systems, it was recognised that the system could also aid in preventing the importation of dangerous goods by stopping such imports at the borders, once they have been detected elsewhere in the Community. The involvement of Customs departments will therefore be critical in this regard and incorporates an added feature which is now being integrated in the EU’s RAPEX from which the CARREX stems.[97]

National Contact Points have been created in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, who are all participating in this regional system. The notification system covers non-food consumer products such as motor vehicles, electrical items, toys,[95] pharmaceutical products[98] and a range of others which more than 13 million consumers in these countries use annually.[95]

CARREX operates through an online portal/webpage (http://carrex.caricom.org/)[98][99] that allows consumers in any of the participating countries to alert their national contact point about a product, which they have detected, has caused harm or poses a safety hazard.[95] Under the system, non-food and pharmaceutical products can be withdrawn from Caricom markets and action taken to ensure that regional and international manufacturers address consumer safety concerns.[98]

On the website, consumers and consumer organisations are advised that the information they supply will be treated as confidential and used only to process their report, enforce national laws or CARICOM treaty provisions or identify areas for improving laws and regulations currently in force.[96][99]

Arising from a predecessor project which prepared, inter alia, a product safety policy, the recommendation to craft a rapid alert system for dangerous non-food items was made and adopted in July 2010 at a meeting of consumer representatives convened by the CARICOM Secretariat.[97] CARREX was officially launched following decisions by the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in May and November 2011.[95] At the November 2011 meeting it was mandated that operation of this regional system commence on January 1, 2012. The system was officially operationalized on January 3, 2012.[97] Leading up to its launch, 12 persons from participating countries’ national contact points were trained on the use of a secure system, which allows them to transmit notifications to each other through a regional secretariat located at the CARICOM Secretariat's CSME Unit in Barbados.[95]

Elimination of Roaming Charges[edit]

At the opening ceremony of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) Caribbean Ministerial Forum on ICT in Port-of-Spain on August 7, 2013 it was announced by CTU President Phillip Paulwell that Digicel has agreed to abolish roaming charges for users of the company’s networks when they travel in the region from October 1.[100]

“After some negotiation, Digicel has agreed as of October 1, 2013, on the abolition of voice roaming on Digicel’s network in Caricom countries. Each travelling subscriber will be treated as if he is using his local/domestic Digicel network throughout the region and therefore will be billed accordingly,” said Paulwell, who is also Jamaica’s Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining. Paulwell said negotiations would continue with Digicel for the abolition of roaming on data charges by year-end and for the removal of taxes on international calls in Jamaica and Haiti. Discussions with LIME, the region’s other major telecoms provider, on a plan for LIME to eliminate roaming charges were ongoing, said Paulwell.[100]

“The overall aim is to abolish roaming for both voice and data, and the objective is to achieve this by year end. Those charges hinder affordable communication between Caribbean people, and as we move toward greater regional unity, we must take every opportunity to remove the barrier that keep us apart,” said Paulwell.[100]

Single ICT Space[edit]

The initiative of a single ICT space for CARICOM was first mooted at the 10th meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government in 1989.[101] Further calls for a single ICT space were made by Grenada's Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell at the opening ceremony of the 34th Heads of Government meeting on July 3, 2013. In making the address, Dr. Mitchell stated that CARICOM members "need to figure out how to leverage ICT as a platform for regional development" and that "the key recommendation of the Regional Digital Development Strategy is that we seek to transform ourselves from 15 sovereign states to a Single ICT Space."[102]

The Single ICT space initiative will aim to complement the flagship regional programme, the CARICOM Single Market and economy (CSME).[101][102]

Suggested characteristics of the Single ICT Space include: consistent rules across the Region, a single mobile numbering plan and consequent removal of roaming charges for intra-regional calls (already partially achieved with regards to all Digicel calls across the region), and CARICOM Copyrights which could foster renewed entrepreneurship and innovation.[101][102]

Considerable benefits are expected to be realised if a single ICT space can be established. In addition to improved economies of scale and scope, a single ICT space can lead to a more coherent approach in addressing a broad range of ICT-related issues in the region, which is urgently needed. More importantly, if done correctly, increased competitiveness and growth in the individual countries and the region as a whole could also eventuate.[101]

At the conclusion of the 34th meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government, the Heads of Government agreed that ICT issues would receive focused attention at the 25th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference in 2014 to be held in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the first quarter of the year.[101][103]

In that regard they mandated that the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) ICT meet urgently under the Chairmanship of the Lead Head of Government with responsibility for ICT to consider the ICT Action Plan, the proposal for a Single CARICOM ICT Space and other relevant ICT issues and make recommendations to the 25th Inter-Sessional Meeting.[103]

At the 25th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, held in early March 2014, Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said Tuesday evening that a Roadmap towards unveiling the Single Information Communication Technology ICT Space as the digital layer of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) over the next two years would be developed and presented to the Heads of Government Meeting in July 2015. Dr. Gonsalves, said that the Roadmap would include elements such as spectrum management, bringing technology to the people and transforming them to digital citizens, diaspora re-engagement, cyber security and public-private partnerships.[104]

The Community’s efforts to boost development through the use of (ICT) would be undertaken in tandem with the Reform Process for the years 2014-2019, Dr. Gonsalves said at the conclusion of the 25th Intersessional Meeting. Developing a Single CARICOM ICT Space to enhance the environment for investment and production was identified as one of the key areas that the Community should undertake in the short-term to become competitive. As envisioned by its framers, the Single ICT Space will encompass the management of Regional information, human resources, legislation and infrastructure in the sector to elicit maximum benefit for the Region’s populace.[104]

The Single ICT space and the Region’s Digital Agenda 2025 will be constructed on the foundation of the Regional Digital Development Strategy (RDDS) which was approved in 2013, and will also have inputs from the Commission on the Economy and the Post-2015 Agenda.[104]

Functional Cooperation among regional airlines[edit]

Following a special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on Transportation in May 2013, under the Chairmanship of Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Lead Head of Government for Transport in CARICOM, the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM established the Transportation Commission in September 2013. The Commission was intended to address the ongoing concerns of the travelling public and the critical role transportation plays in the Community. In approving the Terms of Reference for the Commission, the Bureau of Heads of Government endorsed a proposal from the Ministers of Transport that it would be in the best interest of the Region for the government-owned carriers in CARICOM - CAL, LIAT, Surinam Airways, and Bahamasair – to collaborate on ways to provide a more efficient, reliable and affordable service to the Region.[105]

Discussions among the regional government-owned airlines began on 23 January 2014, under the auspices of the CARICOM Secretariat. The interaction of air carriers in January identified the procurement of equipment, training of personnel, scheduling of flights, and maintenance of aircraft, as some of the areas where cooperation was possible. The meeting agreed that while CAL and LIAT collaborated at the technical level, interaction at the corporate level would prove useful in cementing and increasing collaboration and improving efficiencies. To this end, the acting CEOs of the two airlines met on 31 January and advanced concrete ways of collaboration in the areas identified.[105]

A second meeting was held in February 2014 and preceded inaugural deliberations of the Transportation Commission (which were held later on that day). During this second meeting, the airline representatives including CEOs, Chairmen of the Board and Chief Financial Officers, put more flesh to the earlier discussions and sought to pursue further deliberations on matters including training, ground handling and arrangements for smoother transiting by the travelling public. The acting CEOs of CAL and LIAT also shared the outcomes of their discussions on 31 January with their colleagues at this second meeting[105]

Past projects[edit]

Special Visa and the Single Domestic Space in 2006-07[edit]

During the July 2006 CARICOM Summit, the various leaders reached an agreement[106] on measures to ensure hassle-free movement[107] for visitors to the 2007 Cricket World Cup, as well intelligence sharing and cooperation for the security of the event.[108] People were originally to be able to travel amongst the nine host countries and Dominica between 15 January 2007 and 15 May 2007 using a single CARICOM visa.[109] However, during a meeting in Trinidad and Tobago on 29 December 2006, the Heads of Government decided to push back the creation of the Single Domestic Space to 1 February 2007 in response to representation from tourism ministers and others involved in the tourism industry.[110][111]

Cruise ship passengers not staying more than 24 hours at any of the 10 Caribbean countries were issued with a CARICOM day pass. However, those who were staying on cruise ships, dubbed "floating hotels" for the duration of the games, were required to obtain a visa unless their countries fell within those that are exempted.[112] Visa abolition agreements between some of the ten Caribbean states concerned and countries whose citizens were then required to obtain CARICOM visas during the Cricket World Cup provided for the suspension of the visa-free policy in such cases.[112]

During the three and a half month period from February to May, the ten Caribbean countries became a "single domestic space"[113] in which travellers only had their passport stamped and had to submit completed entry and departure forms at the first port and country of entry. The entry and departure forms were also standardised for all ten countries.[114] When continuing travel throughout the Single Domestic Space, persons (including those using the common visa) were not required to have their documents processed to clear customs and immigration and did not need to have their passports stamped, but still needed to travel with them.[108] Once passengers arrived at the Immigration Department Desk at the first port of entry, they were provided with a blue CARICOM wristband that identified them for hassle free movement through the single domestic space.[115][116][117]

When the single domestic space came to an end on 15 May 2007 nearly 45,000 visas had been issued.[118]

In February 2007 the CARICOM Heads of Government agreed to set up a Task Force to recommend a revised CARICOM Special Visa for the future, making any changes necessary from the experiences of the 3 month Single Domestic Space.

Proposed Re-Introduction[edit]

In February 2013, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Aviation Task Force (a committee established to facilitate air transportation into and throughout the Caribbean and to enhance airlift) recommended a review of visa regimes in member countries in order to improve the visitor experience following a recent meeting held in Antigua to review issues affecting intra-regional travel and make recommendations for increasing consumer demand.

The task force also recommended to its membership a system similar to the Europe’s Schengen visa programme where visitors who are cleared at the initial port of entry can continue travelling seamlessly throughout most of the European Union.

The task force agreed that full clearance at the first port of entry was necessary to ensure an improved cross regional experience by visitors and agreed that the sub-regional grouping, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, (OECS) should be used as a model for such a single visa regime. The OECS is in the process of establishing a single economic space and is expected to implement full clearance at the first point of entry into the sub-group. The CTO Aviation Task Force agreed that this best practice would be reviewed after its implementation for possible replication across the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) region and beyond.

In addition to a single visa regime, the Task Force recommended a standardized entry and exit card– otherwise called immigration or ED card - across the Caribbean. This it is said, would help reduce airlines’ costs and improve customer service at Caribbean airports. Again, the OECS, which is expected to introduce the use of one common ED card, will be used as a model.

Other recommendations include an analysis of the impact of taxes and fees on the cost of regional air travel and a more holistic approach towards air travel revenue; including a possible ticket tax rebate when a traveller starts and ends the journey in another destination of the same domestic space. The task force also identified an urgent need to end secondary screening for intra-regional passengers who are in transit since the current practice diminishes the overall travellers’ experience.

Also on the Aviation Task Force agenda were issues related to the CARICOM Multilateral Air Services Agreement, open skies, and other regulations and restrictions facing airlines serving the Caribbean.[119]

In June 2013, ministers of transport for CARICOM member states recommended the reintroduction of the single domestic space. The ministers made the recommendation following a special meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on Transportation held in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Wednesday May 29, 2013. Recommendations from that meeting will be presented to the CARICOM heads of government at the upcoming 34th regular meeting to be held in Trinidad and Tobago from 4–6 July, at which transportation will receive special attention. It was also agreed that the conference of heads of government should be asked to revisit its decision to discontinue the inexpensive armband system that facilitated hassle free regional travel during the 2007 Cricket World Cup, particularly given the popularity of the initiative with the citizens of the Community.[120]

Also recognized at the COTED meeting were the challenges faced with respect to frequent security checks during intra-regional travel and cooperation between the regional airlines. These challenges were acknowledged as negatively affecting the travelling public and having repercussions for business and tourism and it was agreed that work had to be done to improve customer service among border control officers in the region. With respect to issue of air transportation, the ministers underscored the need for deeper collaboration among the regional airlines so that their operations could be better streamlined. Key among the recommendations were for shareholders in the government-owned carriers in CARICOM, beginning with Caribbean Airlines (CAL), LIAT and Surinam Airways, to meet in the near future, to discuss how they may rationalise their operations, routes, flight schedules and luggage transfers among other things in the best interests of the consumers. A team was established in the meeting, chaired by St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to review elements of a draft policy on air and maritime transportation and asked member states to submit comments by the end of June.[120]

Up to one year prior, at a February 2012 meeting with a CARCOM Bureau of Heads of Government delegation, Haitian President Michel Martelly had asked fellow Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders to consider a plan that would allow Haitians who hold a United States or Schegen visas to travel hassle-free through CARICOM.[121] Martelly had made clear that his interest was in Haitians enjoying the same privileges as other CARICOM member states, and that the visa plan could be the first step in that process.[121]

CARICOM Traveller's Cheques Facility (1980-1993)[edit]

The original Treaty of Chaguaramas had prescribed that member states explore ways of harmonizing their monetary, exchange rate and payments policies in the interest of smooth functioning of the Common Market. Up to the late 1970s the various CARICOM countries established a compensation procedure to favour the use of the member states currencies. The procedure was aimed at ensuring monetary stability and promoting trade development. This monetary compensation scheme (or Intra-Regional Payments Scheme) was at first bilateral, but although it worked fairly well for about eight years it was limited, cumbersome and unwieldy as each participant had to keep individual accounts for all the other participants and the accounts had to be individually balanced at the end of each credit period. In addition, the bilateral arrangements did not produce meaningful economies in the use of foreign exchange. The system finally became multilateral in 1977 and was called the CARICOM Multilateral Clearing Facility (CMCF). The CMCF was supposed to favour the use of internal CARICOM currencies for transaction settlement and to promote banking cooperation and monetary cooperation between member states. Each country was allowed a fixed credit line and initially the CMCF was successful enough that both the total credit line and the credit period were extended by 1982. With the CMCF in place, intraregional trade doubled between 1978 and 1981, and the use of the credit facility of the CMCF expanded from US$40 million to US$100 million. However, the CMCF failed shortly thereafter in the early 1980s due to Guyana's inability to settle its debts and Barbados being unable to grant new payment terms[122][123]

In the period since suspension, the only activities which took place under the aegis of the CMCF were the rescheduling the obligations of the debtor (in the case of the CMCF, there was only one major debtor owing in excess of US$160 million to the Facility) and the activities of the Caricom Travellers Cheques (CTC) Facility.[124] The Caricom Traveller's Cheques Facility was introduced on August 1, 1980 and authorised dealers were allowed to issue only Caricom traveller's cheques to residents travelling within Caricom countries other than Jamaica.[125] Jamaica later fully joined the scheme in the mid-1980s[124][126] and the cheques were issued in Trinidad and Tobago dollars in denominations of 10, 20, 50, and 100.[124] The Traveller's Cheques facility was administered by the National Commercial Bank of Trinidad and Tobago[123] and usage had fluctuated in the 1980s but between 1986 and 1991 it had average annual sales and encashment levels in excess of US$3 million.[124] Following the removal of exchange control in most territories towards the end of the 1980s,[123] the devaluation of the Trinidad & Tobago dollar and the introduction of floating exchange rates in Guyana (1987), Jamaica (1991) and Trinidad & Tobago (April 1993) the annual average sales and encashment levels for the CTC facility first showed a marked decline to under US$1.6 million in 1991 and then under US$1 million in 1992.[124] The Caricom Traveller's Cheques Facility was officially ended in December 1993[127] with cheques issued before December 31, 1993 able to be cashed for a period of one year at commercial banks and thereafter only at the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago.[128]

Future proposals[edit]

Free trade[edit]

From around the year 2000, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states have placed a new focus and emphasis on establishing Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with local and international trading partners. In the past this was done in collaboration with the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM), however in 2009 the CARICOM Heads of Government have voted for the CRNM to be moved to the Caribbean Community organisation where it would become renamed the CARICOM Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN)[129] similar to the OCTA of the Pacific Islands Forum.

Preferential agreements
Negotiating parties Start day Start month Start year
CARICOM 1 January 1993
Venezuela
CARICOM 1995
Colombia
Free Trade Agreements
Proposed
  • CARICOM - Canada: To be negotiated, after Canada finishes their CAFTA agreement.
  • CARICOM - Mercosur: Opened for discussions in May 2005
  • CARICOM - United States: Has been tossed around politically in various degrees including the idea of CARICOM seeking to be an entrant into NAFTA, but has not yet taken a firm position.[133]

Note that the on-going negotiations with the EU over an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) involves all the CARICOM Member States (except Montserrat, which is not independent) plus the Dominican Republic grouped under the Caribbean Forum or CARIFORUM sub-grouping of the ACP countries. At the end of these negotiations (begun in 2002 and due to end in 2007) there will be a new Free Trade Agreement that will replace the Lomé system of preferential access to the European market for the ACP from 2008.[134]

Petrocaribe[edit]

13 of the 15 CARICOM countries have signed in 2005 the Petrocaribe, an oil alliance with Venezuela which permits them to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]