CARICOM Single Market and Economy
|This article is outdated. (January 2013)|
- CSME redirects here. CSME may also refer to the China Manned Space Engineering Office.
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The CARICOM Single Market and Economy, also known as the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), is an integrated development strategy envisioned at the 10th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community which took place in July 1989 in Grand Anse, Grenada. The Grand Anse Declaration had three key Features:
- Deepening economic integration by advancing beyond a common market towards a Single Market and Economy.
- Widening the membership and thereby expanding the economic mass of the Caribbean Community (e.g. Suriname and Haiti were admitted as full members in 1995 and 2002 respectively).
- Progressive insertion of the region into the global trading and economic system by strengthening trading links with non-traditional partners.
A precursor to CARICOM and its CSME was the Caribbean Free Trade Agreement, formed in 1965 and dissolved in 1973.
- 1 Single market and economy
- 2 Member states
- 3 Caribbean Court of Justice
- 4 Trade in goods
- 5 Harmonization of standards
- 6 Regional accreditation
- 7 Trade in services and the right of establishment
- 8 Work permits and the free movement of people
- 9 Nationality criteria
- 10 Harmonization of legislation
- 11 Free movement of capital
- 12 Single currency
- 13 CARICOM Development Fund
- 14 Footnotes
- 15 References
- 16 External links
Single market and economy
The CSME will be implemented through a number of phases, first being the CARICOM Single Market (CSM). The CSM was initially implemented on January 1, 2006 with the signing of the document for its implementation by six original member states. However the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the CSME had been provisionally applied by twelve member states of CARICOM from February 4, 2002 under a Protocol on the Provisional Application of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. Nine protocols had been drafted to amend the Original Treaty of Chaguaramas and had been consolidated into the Revised Treaty signed at Nassau in 2001, with a number of the Protocols having been applied in part or in full from their creation in 1997-1998 including the provision on the Free Movement of Skilled Nationals.
As of July 3, 2006, it now has 12 members. Although the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) has been established, in 2006 it was only expected to be fully implemented in 2008. Later in 2007 a new deadline for the coming into effect of the Single Economy was set for 2015, however following the global 2007-08 financial crisis and the resulting Great Recession, in 2011, CARICOM Heads of Government declared that progress towards the Single Economy had been put on pause. The completion of the CSME with the Single Economy will be achieved with the harmonization of economic policy, and possibly a single currency.
At the eighteenth Inter-Sessional CARICOM Heads of Government Conference in St. Vincent and the Grenadines from 12–14 February 2007, it was agreed that while the framework for the Single Economy would be on target for 2008, the recommendations of a report on the CSME for the phased implementation of the Single Economy would be accepted. The Single Economy is now expected to be implemented in two phases.
Phase 1 was to take place between 2008 and 2009 with the consolidation of the Single Market and the initiation of the Single Economy. Its main elements would include:
- The outline of the Development Vision and the Regional Development Strategy
- The extension of categories of free movement of labour and the streamlining of existing procedures, including contingent rights
- Full implementation of free movement of service providers, with streamlined procedures
- Implementation of Legal status (i.e. legal entrenchment) for the CARICOM Charter for Civil Society
- Establishment and commencement of operations of the Regional Development Fund
- Approval of the CARICOM Investment Regime and CARICOM Financial Services Agreement, to come into effect by January 1, 2009
- Establishment of the Regional Stock Exchange
- Implementation of the provisions the Rose Hall Declaration on Governance and Mature Regionalism, including:
- The automatic application of decisions of the Conference of Heads of Government at the national level in certain defined areas.
- The creation of a CARICOM Commission with Executive Authority in the implementation of decisions in certain defined areas.
- The automatic generation of resources to fund regional institutions.
- The strengthening of the role of the Assembly of Caribbean Community Parliamentarians.
- Further technical work, in collaboration with stakeholders, on regional policy frameworks for energy, agriculture, sustainable tourism, agro-tourism, transport, new export services and small and medium enterprises.
During Phase 1 it is also expected that by January 1, 2009, there would be:
- Negotiation and political approval of the Protocol on Enhanced Monetary Cooperation
- Agreement among Central Banks on common CARICOM currency numeraire
- Detailed technical work on the harmonisation of taxation regimes and fiscal incentives (to commence on January 1, 2009).
Progress and delays
While progress on the elements of Phase 1 has not resulted in its completion by 2009, a number of its elements have been met, including:
- The outline of the Development Vision and the Regional Development Strategy
- The extension of categories of free movement of labour (to now include to household domestics, nurses, teachers and workers holding specific categories of vocational qualifications) and the streamlining of existing procedures, including contingent rights
- Full implementation of free movement of service providers, with streamlined procedures
- Establishment of the Regional Development Fund and Regional Stock Exchange
Notable elements that have yet to be completed are; legal entrenchment for the CARICOM Charter for Civil Society, approval of the CARICOM Investment Regime and CARICOM Financial Services Agreement (although in August 2013 Finance Ministers of the member states in a Community Council meeting approved the draft CARICOM Financial Services Agreement and the draft amendment to the Intra-CARICOM Double Taxation Agreement), and implementation of the provisions the Rose Hall Declaration on Governance and Mature Regionalism
Phase 2 is to take place between 2010 and 2015 and consists of the consolidation and completion of the Single Economy. It is expected that decisions taken during Phase 1 would be implemented within this time period, although the details will depend on the technical work, consultations and decisions that would have been taken. Phase 2 will include:
- Harmonisation of taxation systems, incentives and the financial and regulatory environment
- Implementation of common policies in agriculture, energy-related industries, transport, small and medium enterprises, sustainable tourism and agro-tourism
- Implementation of the Regional Competition Policy and Regional Intellectual Property Regime
- Harmonisation of fiscal and monetary policies
- Implementation of a CARICOM Monetary Union.
Current 12 full members of both CARICOM and the CSME:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
Of the 12 members expected to join the CSME, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago were the first six to implement the CARICOM Single Market on January 1, 2006. Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines were the next batch of members (six in all) that joined the CSM on July 3, 2006 at the recent CARICOM Heads of Government Conference.
Current full members of CARICOM and partial participant of the CSME:
Haiti’s Parliament ratified the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas in October 2007 and Haitian Foreign Minister Jean Renald Clerisme presented the published Notice of Ratification to the Chairman of the Caribbean Community Council of Ministers, on 7 February clearing the way for the country’s full participation in the CSME on 8 February 2008. Haiti has not completed its implementation of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and is therefore not a full participant in the Single Market and Economy. In keeping with the thrust to rebuild the country following the 2010 earthquake and earlier 2004 political crisis, work has also continued with respect to preparing Haiti to participate effectively in the CSME. It is being assisted in its preparations by the Secretariat, led by the CARICOM Representation Office in Haiti (CROH) which was re-opened in 2007 with funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The CROH, in 2007 started the Haiti CSME Project, the objective of which was to assist the Government of Haiti in accelerating its participation in the CSME as a means of enabling Haiti to fully re-engage in the process of regional integration in the Caribbean Community.
As a first step towards the CSME, Haiti was due to enter the trade in goods regime of the Single Market in January 2010 (earlier targets had been for some time in 2009) but could not do so because of the earthquake. Up until that point much work had been done by CROH and it's Haitian government counterpart, the Bureau de Coordination et de Suivi or BCS (Office of Coordination and Monitoring), on the technical work necessary to bring the Haitian national tariff in line with the Caricom Common External Tariff (CET). The next step that had to be taken for Haiti to commence full free trade in goods within the CSME was therefore for the Haitian Parliament to pass legislation adopting the Caricom External tariff as Haiti’s national tariff. In mid 2009, the Government of Haiti announced that it would be ready to participate fully in free trade in goods within the CSME by 1 January 2010; and in fact through a revised Custom Act adopted by the Haitian Parliament in late 2009, 20-30% of the Caricom CET was incorporated into the Haitian national tariff. However soon after Haiti's progress towards full adoption of the CET began to stall with the dismissal of the Government of Prime Minister Michèle Pierre-Louis in November 2009 and was then put on hold as a result of the January 2010 earthquake. To assist in stimulating economic activity, the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in December, approved a request for some Haitian products to be exported within the Single Market on a non-reciprocal preferential basis for three years. Consultations are on-going towards approval of additional items from an original list which Haiti submitted. The concession became effective from 1 January 2011. CARICOM Secretariat officials are continuing their training exercises with Haitian customs officials to facilitate their understanding of the CSME’s trading regime.
In regards to the inclusion of Haitians in the free movement of skilled nationals under the CSME regime and a review of the visa policy towards Haitian nationals by other Caricom states some progress has been made. By early 2009, representation to the Caricom Heads of Government on the issue, particularly arising out of difficulties faced by Government officials travelling to Caricom meetings, led the Conference of Heads of Government to waive visa requirements for Haitian Government officials bearing official Government passports. In 2010 Caricom Heads of Government went a step further to facilitate travel by Haitian businesses persons and agreed that Haitians possessing US and Schengen visas would not require visas to enter other Caricom member states. In regards to participation in the free movement of skilled nationals, Haiti has also been included in the relevant legislation of at least some CSME states as a participating member state.
Current full members of CARICOM and signatory for (and de-facto participant of) the CSME:
Montserrat was awaiting entrustment (approval) of the United Kingdom with regards to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas in order to participate, but such entrustment was denied in mid-2008, and the CARICOM Heads of Government (including Montserrat) expressed disappointment and urged the United Kingdom to reconsider its position. Until such time, Montserrat has been treated in the relevant legislation of other member states as being a participant of the CSME and Montserrat itself implements aspects of the CSME where possible for its own residents and for nationals of other CSME states (or provides more favourable treatment for such nationals where full implementation is not possible). These measures include legal provisions for the automatic grant of 6 months stay under the freedom of movement obligations and honouring CARICOM skills certificates in Montserrat. Montserrat also issues land holding licenses to CARICOM nationals as an administrative procedure in seeking to comply with CARICOM’s right of establishment obligations, and intends to remove all impediments except for those related to cost recovery. Montserrat's compliance with the movement of capital obligations under the CSME is already assured within the framework of the East Caribbean Currency Union.
At the thirty-fifth regular meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government ending on July 4, 2014, Reuben Meade, Premier of Montserrat, announced that Montserrat intends to accede to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas by the next meeting of the Conference, paving the way for its full participation in the Community and particularly the CSME. Montserrat has been progressively making steps towards accession to the Revised Treaty, including obtaining the necessary instrument of entrustment from the United Kingdom. To this end Montserrat will be engaging with the CARICOM Secretariat and relevant CARICOM Institutions and the Caribbean Court of Justice in preparation for the deposit of its Instrument of Accession at the Twenty-Sixth Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference, to be held in February 2015 in The Bahamas.
Current full members of CARICOM but not the CSME:
Current 5 associate members of CARICOM but not the CSME:
- British Virgin Islands (July 1991)
- Turks and Caicos Islands (July 1991)
- Anguilla (July 1999)
- Cayman Islands (15 May 2002)
- Bermuda (2 July 2003)
Current 7 observing members of CARICOM but not the CSME:
Caribbean Court of Justice
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is the Highest regional Court established by the Agreement Establishing in the Caribbean Court of Justice. It has a long gestation period commencing in 1970 when the Jamaican delegation at the Sixth Heads of Government Conference, which convened in Jamaica, proposed the establishment of a Caribbean Court of Appeal in substitution for the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
The Caribbean Court of Justice has been designed to be more than a court of last resort for Member States of the Caribbean Community of the Privy Council, the CCJ was vested with an original jurisdiction in respect of the interpretation and application of the Treaty Establishing the Caribbean Community (Treaty of Chaguramas) In effect, the CCJ would exercise both an appellate and an original jurisdiction.
In the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, the CCJ considers and determines appeals in both civil and criminal matters from common law courts within the jurisdiction of Member States of the Community and which are parties to the Agreement Establishing the CCJ. In the discharge of its appellate jurisdiction, the CCJ is the highest municipal court in the Region. In the exercise of its original jurisdiction, the CCJ will be discharging the functions of an international tribunal applying rules of international law in respect of the interpretation and application of the Treaty and so will be the court of arbitration for trade disputes under the CSME.
By 2006, only two countries were full signatories to the Court: Barbados and Guyana, it was expected that by the end of 2010, all 14 member countries would be fully involved. However only Belize acceded to the appellate jurisdiction in 2010 while all other states were in various stages of moving towards full accession to the court's appellate jurisdiction.
(Source; CARICOM's official website at)
Trade in goods
All goods which meet the CARICOM rules of origin are traded duty-free throughout the region (except The Bahamas), therefore all goods originating within the region can be traded without restrictions. In addition, most member states apply a Common External Tariff (CET) on good originating from non-CARICOM countries. There are, however, some areas still to be developed:
- Treatment of products made in Free Zones – there is need for regional agreement on how these goods are to be treated since they are usually manufactured at reduced tariff by foreign companies.
- The removal of some specific non-tariff barriers in various member-states.
Another key element in relations to goods is Free Circulation. This provision allows for the free movement of goods imported from extra regional sources which would require collection of taxes at first point of entry into the CSME and for the sharing of collected customs revenue.
Harmonization of standards
Complementary to the free movement of goods will be the guarantee of acceptable standards of these goods and services. To accomplish this, CARICOM members have established the Caribbean Regional Organization on Standards and Quality (CROSQ). The Organization will be responsible for establishing regional standards in the manufacture and trade of goods which all Member States must adhere to. This Organization was established by a separate agreement from the CSME.
(Source; JIS website on the CSME - see references)
Regional accreditation bodies are planned to assess qualifications for equivalency, complementary to the free movement of persons. To this end, the Member States have concluded the Agreement on Accreditation for Education in Medical and other Health Professions. By this agreement, an Authority (the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medical and Other Health Professions) is established which will be responsible for accrediting doctors and other health care personnel throughout the CSME. The Authority will be Headquartered in Jamaica, which is one of among six states (Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago) in which is agreement is already in force. The Bahamas has also signed on to the Agreement.
Region-wide accreditation has also been planned for vocational skills. Currently local training agencies award National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) or national Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) certification, which are not valid across Member States. However, in 2003, the Caribbean Association of National Agencies (CANTA) was formed as an umbrella organization of the various local training agencies including Trinidad and Tobago's National Training Agency, the Barbados TVET Council and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States TVET agency and the HEART Trust/NTA of Jamaica. Since 2005, the member organizations of CANTA have been working together to ensure a uniformed level of certified skilled labour under the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) and CANTA itself has established a regional certification scheme that awards the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ), which is to replace NVQs and national TVET certifications. The CVQ will be school-based and although based on the certification scheme of CANTA, will be awarded by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) which will be collaborating with CANTA on the CVQ programme. At the February 9–10, 2007 meeting of the Regional Coordinating Mechanism for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, officials discussed arrangements for the award of the CVQ which was approved by the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) in October 2006. It was expected that the CVQ programme may be in place by mid-2007, if all the requirements are met and that provisions were being made for the holders of current NVQs to have them converted into the regionally accepted type (although no clear mandate is yet in place). This deadline was met and in October 2007, the CVQ programme was officially launched. The CVQ now facilitates the movement of artisans and other skilled persons in the CSME. This qualification will be accessible to persons already in the workforce as well as students in secondary schools across the Caribbean region. Those already in the work force will be required to attend designated centres for assessment.
The CVQ is based on a competency-based approach to training, assessment and certification. Candidates are expected to demonstrate competence in attaining occupational standards developed by practitioners, industry experts and employers. Those standards when approved by CARICOM allow for portability across the Region. Currently, CVQs are planned to reflect a Qualification framework of five levels. These are:
- Level 1: Directly Supervised/Entry –Level Worker
- Level 2: Supervised Skilled Worker
- Level 3: Independent or Autonomous Skilled Worker
- Level 4: Specialized or Supervisory Worker
- Level 5: Managerial and/or Professional Worker
CVQ’s are awarded to those candidates who would have met the required standards in all of the prescribed units of study. Statements are issued in cases where candidates did not complete all the requirements for the award of CVQ. Schools that are suitably equipped currently offer Levels 1 & 2.
By March 2012 up to 2,263 CVQs had been awarded in the workforce across the region and 2,872 had been awarded in schools for a total of 5,135 CVQs awarded up to that time. The breakdown of the agency awarding the over 5,000 CVQs by March 2012 stood at 1,680 having been awarded by the CXC and 3,455 being awarded by the various National Training Agencies (with a some being awarded in the workplace and some being awarded in secondary schools).
(Main Sources; JIS website on the CSME and Google Cache of SICE - Establishment of the CSME at - see references)
Trade in services and the right of establishment
Along with the free trade in goods, the Revised Treaty also provides the framework for the establishment of a regime for free trade in services. The main objective is to facilitate trade and investment in the services sectors of CSME Member States through the establishment of economic enterprises. The free trade regime for services grants the following benefits:
|The Right of Establishment||CARICOM-owned companies will have the right to establish and operate businesses in any CSME member-state under the same terms and conditions as local companies, i.e. without restrictions. Managerial, technical and supervisory staff of these enterprises will be able to enter and work without work permits.|
|Region-wide Services||CARICOM service providers will be able to offer their services throughout the region, again without work permits, usually on a temporary basis, e.g., consultancies.|
(Source; JIS website on the CSME - see references)
Work permits and the free movement of people
The Free Movement of Skilled Persons, arises from an agreed CARICOM policy that was originally separate but related to the original Protocol II of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. The agreed policy, called The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Free Movement of Persons Act, is now enacted legislation in all the CSME Member States. It provides for the free movement of certain categories of skilled labour, but according to the policy there is to be eventual free movement of all persons, originally by 2008, but now by 2009. Under this legislation, persons within these categories can qualify for Skills Certificates (which allow for the free movement across the region).
Since the start of the CSM, eight categories of CARICOM nationals have been eligible for free movement throughout the CSME without the need for work permits. They are: University Graduates, Media Workers, Artistes, Musicians, Sportspersons, Managers, Technical and Supervisory Staff attached to a company and Self-Employed Persons/Service Providers. In addition the spouses and immediate dependent family members of these nationals will also be exempt from work permit requirements. At the July 2006 CARICOM Summit, it was agreed to allow for free movement of two more categories of skilled persons; tertiary-trained Teachers and Nurses. It was also agreed that higglers, artisans, domestic workers and hospitality workers are to be added to the categories of labour allowed free movement at a later date, pending the agreement of an appropriate certification. This envisioned extension for the latter categories of workers such as artisans was achieved in October 2007 with the launch of the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ).
The freedom to live and work throughout the CSME is granted by the Certificate of Recognition of CARICOM Skills Qualification (commonly called a CARICOM Skills Certificate or just a Skills Certificate). The Skills Certificate essentially replaces work permits and are obtained from the requisite ministry once all the essential documents/qualifications (which varies with each category of skilled persons) are handed in with an application. The issuing ministry varies depending upon the CARICOM Member State. In Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica and Suriname the Skills Ceritificates are issued by the Ministry of Labour. Grenada, Guyana, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago have Ministries for Caribbean Community Affairs which deal with the Certificates. Meanwhile, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines issue the Certificates through the Ministries of Immigration. The Skills Certificate can be applied for in either the home or host country.
At the eighteenth Inter-Sessional CARICOM Heads of Government Conference in February, it was agreed that artisans would not be immediately granted free movement status from January (as was originally envisaged), but would rather be granted free movement by mid-2007. The free movement of artisans will be facilitated through the award of Caribbean Vocational Qualifications (CVQ) based on industrial occupational standards. The conference also agreed that the free movement of domestic workers and hospitality workers could be facilitated in a similar manner to the free movement of artisans and that their cases would be considered after the CVQ model is launched. The CVQ itself was launched in October 2007, thereby facilitating the free movement of these categories of workers.
The Free Movement of Labour is also being facilitated by measures to harmonize social services (health, education, etc.) and providing for the transfer of social security benefits (with the Bahamas also being involved). Regional accreditation will also facilitate the free movement of people/labour.
Although the CARICOM Skills Certificate regime pre-dates the formal inauguration of the CSME (Skills Certificates have been available since 1997, while the CSME was only formally instituted in 2005 following provisional application of the CSME protocols in 2001) the number of Skills Certificates issued to qualifying CARICOM nationals has only really taken off since the CSME was instituted. Between 1997 and 2005 only nine Member States had issued certificates of Recognition of Skills on a relatively small scale. Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Guyana have issued the bulk of these certificates. By September 2010 approximately 10,000 Skills Certificates had been issued by the 12 member states with the available data on free movement indicating that more than 6,000 of these skills certificates having been issued between 2006 and 2008.
Individually, some countries account for a large percentage of the total Skills Certificates issued. For instance between 1997 and July 2010, Guyana had issued 2,829 skills certificates. Up to June 2011, Jamaica had issued 2,113 skills certificates. And as of September 2013, Jamaica had issued 2,893 skills certificates. Data also indicated that the number of verifications and the number of certificates issued by other member states to Jamaicans for 2004 to 2010 amounted to 1,020. And between 2001 and 2006 Trinidad and Tobago issued 789 Skills Certificates. By 2008, Trinidad and Tobago had issued a total of 1,685 Skills Certificates.
It is expected that by June 2014, all CARICOM nationals will have easier access to participating CSME Member States, and be able to fully exercise their rights to travel, work and seek out other opportunities as provided for under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) arrangement.
This is being facilitated through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)-funded CARICOM Trade and Competitiveness Project (CTCP), under which a critical electronic database is being established. It will, among other things, provide member countries with aggregated information on the various skill sets available, through a web-based portal being developed by project consultant, A-Z Information Jamaica Limited.
Additionally, the consultant is proposing that the CARICOM National Skills Certificate be standardised across countries, and presented in the form of a stamp in persons’ passports. This will eliminate the discrepancies in the format of certificates, as well as the need for a physical document and result in ease of processing at the various points of entry across member countries.
Concurrent with (and to some extent pre-dating) the free movement of people is the easier facilitation of intra-regional travel. This aim is being accomplished by the use of separate Lines identified for CARICOM and Non-CARICOM Nationals at Ports of entry (already in place for all 13 members) and the introduction of a CARICOM Passport and Standardized Entry/Departure Forms.
(Main Sources; JIS website on the CSME and CARICOM website on the CSME - see references)
In relation to a number of issues such as professional services, residency and land ownership, legislation in the various member states used to discriminate in favour of their individual nationals. This legislation has been amended, as of 2005, to remove the discriminatory provisions. This will allow CARICOM nationals, for example, to be eligible for registration in their respective professions on an equal basis.
However, shortly before signing onto the CSM, the second batch of member states (all in the OECS) negotiated an opt-out agreement with regards to land ownership by non-nationals. As the OECS members of the CSM are all small countries and have limited available land, they are allowed to keep their Alien Land Holding Laws or Alien Landholders Acts (which apply to the ownership of land by non-nationals), but will put in place mechanisms to ensure compliance with the Revised Treaty that will monitor the granting of access to land and the conditions of such access. As it now stands foreign companies or nationals have to seek legal permission to buy land. All other laws relating to discrimination in favour of member state nationals only have been amended though. Among the non-OECS members of the CSM, there are no restrictions on private land ownership by CARICOM nationals (although in Suriname, and possibly in the other members as well, restrictions still apply with regards to state-owned land).
(Main Source; JIS website on the CSME - see references)
Harmonization of legislation
The Revised Treaty also calls for harmonized regimes in a number of areas: Anti-dumping and countervailing measures, Banking and securities, Commercial arbitration, Competition policy, Consumer protection, Customs, Intellectual property rights, Regulation and labelling of food and drugs, Sanitary and phytosanitary measures, Standards and technical regulations & Subsidies.
Draft model legislation is being developed by a CARICOM Legislative Drafting Facility in collaboration with the Chief Parliamentary Counsels of the region
(Main Source; JIS website on the CSME - see references)
Free movement of capital
The free movement of capital involves the elimination of the various restrictions such as foreign exchange controls and allowing for the convertibility of currencies (already in effect) or a single currency and capital market integration via a regional stock exchange. The member states have also signed and ratified an Intra-Regional Double Taxation Agreement.
Although not expected until between 2010 and 2015, it is intended that the CSME will have a single currency. As it stands a number of the CSME members are already in a currency union with the Eastern Caribbean dollar and the strength of most regional currencies (with the exception of Jamaica's and Guyana's) should make any future exchange-rate harmonization between CSME members fairly straightforward as a step towards a monetary union.
The aim of forming a CARICOM monetary union is not new. As a precursor to this idea 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 was at first bilateral, but this system was limited and unwieldy because each member state had to have a separate account for each of its CARICOM trade partners and the accounts had to be individually balanced at the end of each credit period. The system 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. 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
Despite the failure of the CMCF, in 1992 the CARICOM Heads of Government determined that CARICOM should move towards monetary integration and commissioned their central bankers to study the possible creation of a monetary union among CARICOM countries. It was argued that monetary integration would provide benefits such as exchange rate and price stability and reduced transaction costs in regional trade. It was also thought that these benefits in turn would stimulate capital flows, intra-regional trade and investment, improve balance of payments performance and increase growth and employment.
The Central Bank Governors produced a report in March 1992 that outlined the necessary steps and criteria for a monetary union by 2000. The 1992 criteria were amended in 1996 and were known as the 3-12-36-15 criteria. They required that:
- countries maintain foreign reserves equivalent to 3 months of import cover or 80% of central bank current liabilities (whichever was greater) for 12 months;
- the exchange rate be maintained at a fixed rate to the US dollar (for Fixers) or within a band of 1.5% on either side of parity (for Floaters) for 36 consecutive months without external debt payment arrears and;
- the debt service ratio to be maintained within 15% of the export of goods and services.
The report envisioned the fulfilment of a monetary union in 3 phases on the basis of grouping the member states into 2 categories, A and B. Category A included the Bahamas, Belize and OECS states. Category A countries had already met the original criteria in 1992 and only had to maintain economic stability to begin the monetary union. Category B consisted of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago (Suriname and Haiti were not yet members and so were not included). These countries had to make the necessary adjustments to meet the entry criteria.
Phase 1 of the monetary union process was scheduled to conclude in 1996. It was to include the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the OECS states and Trinidad and Tobago and there was to have been a common currency as a unit of account (cf. the Euro from 1999–2002) amongst these states with the exception of the Bahamas and Belize. This phase would also involve the coordination of monetary policies and the movement towards intra-regional currency convertibility among all member states. Phase 1 would also have seen the formation of a Council of CARICOM Central Bank Governors to oversee the entire process.
Phase 2 was to have occurred between 1997 and 2000 and should have seen a number of initiatives:
- the formation of a Caribbean Monetary Authority (CMA), which would be accountable to a Council of Ministers of Finance.
- the issuance and circulation of a physical common currency in all Phase 1 countries except the Bahamas.
- the use of the new currency in the other countries (the Bahamas, Guyana and Jamaica) as a unit of account in settling regional transactions.
- the continued efforts by Guyana and Jamaica to meet the criteria for entry into the monetary union if they had not already done so and achieved economic stability.
Phase 3 was planned to begin in 2000 and had as its ultimate goal to have all CARICOM countries entering into the monetary union and membership of the CMA.
However, the implementation of Phase 1 was put on hold in 1993 as a result of Trinidad and Tobago floating its dollar. In response and in an effort to continue pursuing monetary cooperation and integration, CARICOM Central Bank Governors made their regional currencies fully inter-convertible. A subsequent proposal called for Barbados, Belize and the OECS states to form a currency union by 1997 but this also failed.
CARICOM Development Fund
One of the institutions and regimes created to give life to the regional integration movement through the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, is the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF). It forms a critical part of the Community's aim for equitable engagement among its member states. The idea for the CDF was borrowed substantially from a similar mechanism successfully employed the European Union (the EU's Cohesion Fund) in helping bring certain of its member states, such as Ireland, up to a certain economic level to assist them in effectively participating and benefiting from the integration process.
The CDF was established under Article 158 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas “for the purpose of providing financial or technical assistance to disadvantaged countries, regions and sectors.” It is the centre-piece of a regime to address the disparities among the Member States of the Community which may result from the implementation of the CSME. The signing of the Agreement Relating to the Operations of the Fund in July 2008, followed years of negotiations by CARICOM Member States regarding the principles, size and structure of a regional development fund.
There was a sense of achievement when the Agreement was finally signed and technicians employed by the CDF got down to the task of making the mechanism operational. In an interview, CDF Chief Executive Officer Ambassador Lorne McDonnough said “...The CDF start-up team was always confident it would meet the projected launch date...” Despite this confidence he admitted that “...along the way there were always the glitches and frustrating delays that called for an extra dose of perseverance as well as the need to step back and revisit the problem with a fresh resolve”. Ambassador McDonnough noted that heightened expectations and the desire to see the CDF operational in the shortest possible time, meant that Member States sometimes underestimated the work which had to be done to make the CDF ready for full operations.
Notwithstanding all the challenges, on 24 August 2009, in keeping with expectations, the CDF officially opened its doors. This was achieved after nine months of feverish effort by the start-up staff to put systems in place to allow for the receipt of requests for loans and grants.
The CDF currently has 12 members: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago.
The CDF, as established in the Agreement, has its own legal identity but is linked to CARICOM through several Ministerial Councils. The CDF is governed by its own corporate board and is managed by the CEO. Ambassador McDonnough assumed the post of CEO in November 2008 joining Ms. Fay Housty, Senior Advisor, Corporate Governance and Development and Mr. Lenox Forte, Manager, Corporate Development and Programming. These two officers were seconded from the CARICOM Secretariat.
The CDF began its existence from three temporary offices within CARICOM’s CSME Unit in the Tom Adams Financial Centre, Bridgetown, Barbados. The initial team spent the first three months looking for alternative office space, preparing the work plan and budget, seeking funding for the preparation of its governance rules and procedures in addition to beginning the process of recruiting the core executive and administrative staff.
The CDF moved into its current temporary office in the renovated Old Town Hall Building in Bridgetown at the end of January 2009. This space was provided by the Government of Barbados as the CDF continued to work with it on acquiring its more permanent premises by middle of 2010. Ultimately, the new permanent facilities for the CDF were located in a new building located at Mall Internationale, Haggatt Hall, St. Michael, Barbados. This building also housed the new permanent offices of two departments of the CARICOM Secretariat - the Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN) and the CSME Unit. The new offices were officially opened on Monday, December 3, 2012 by the Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart.
Capitalisation of the Fund
All Member States are required to contribute to the Capital of the Fund on the basis of a Formula agreed on by the CARICOM Heads of Government. In 2009 the CDF was capitalised at US$79.9 million. It was envisaged that by the end of the 2009 Member States would have contributed approximately US$87 million. The CDF also has the remit to raise a further US$130 million from donors and friendly states.
The CDF also benefited in 2009 from technical assistance grants of US$149,000 from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and €834,000 from the European Union (EU) Institutional Support Facility in addition to a 2009 contribution of €300,000 signalling the start of a closer relationship between the Government of Finland and CARICOM. The Government of Turkey also provided support to the countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to assist them in making their contribution to the CDF’s capital fund.
By 2011 the CDF was capitalised at US$100.7 million, with the total funds increasing to US$107 million by 2012.
Beneficiaries of the Fund
Whilst all Members of the CSME contributing to the CDF are eligible to receive financial and technical assistance support from the Fund, only the designated disadvantaged countries - the LDCs (OECS and Belize) and Guyana (as a Highly Indebted Poor Country) will have access to resources during the first contribution cycle which runs from 2008 to 2014. To identify the needs of the eligible Member States and to inform the CDF Board as it signed off on governance rules and regulations, needs assessment consultations were undertaken to the LDCs and Guyana.
Informed by these consultations and consistent with its remit to address disparities resulting from the implementation of the CSME, the CDF will focus on disbursing concessionary loans and grants that address objectives related to the implementation of the CSME, preferably small-to-medium size projects of a short implementation period. The details of the criteria for project selection can be found in the CDF Appraisal and Disbursement guidelines on www.csmeonline.org .
In an attempt to guarantee the sustainability of the CDF capital fund, the size of direct loans will range between US$500,000 and US$ 4 million; the minimum size of grants will be US$20,000. In each Contribution Cycle, the Board will earmark up to US$10 million to finance private sector projects that are regional or sub-regional in scope. The CDF will also look to work with its development partners in leveraging the technical assistance it can provide.
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