By RAQUEL MAYA
The necessity for a Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) was the theme of a June 18 lecture by the Right Honorable Owen Seymour Arthur, Prime Minister of Barbados. (View a webcast of the lecture at www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/feature_wdesc.php?rec=4084.)
Sponsored by the Library's Hispanic Division, the lecture shed light on the economic obstacles that Caribbean countries have faced and discussed the future of a proposed single economy. The lecture marked the beginning of the Conference on the Caribbean: A 20/20 Vision, held in Washington, D.C., June 19–21. This year's conference focused on development in the 21st century, economic growth and social equality.
The main purpose of the conference was to develop and strengthen a vision for relations between the United States and the Caribbean communities, and to plan how best to achieve several developmental objectives. Arthur talked specifically about the creation of the CSME, which he feels is the Caribbean's "most ambitious and most far-reaching initiative to improve its circumstances by forging cooperation among its own."
Although a form of the Caribbean single market was initially established more than a year ago by six member states, heads of governments met earlier this year to develop specific plans for two phases of the CSME that would be implemented by 2015.
"It is proposed that the framework setting out the arrangements and timetable for the creation of the single economy will be presented and agreed this year, so that the move towards a single economy can begin in earnest in 2008," said Arthur.
Arthur believes that a single market economy in the Caribbean is crucial to establishing economic strength in the region. He said, "The creation of the CSME therefore does not in any way lessen, but rather accentuates the need for the region to master its external negotiations and to establish new and more mature relationships with its traditional partners and the global economy at large."
Already implemented among several Caribbean states is the Free Movement of Skilled Persons, which allows certain types of laborers to travel freely throughout the Caribbean by obtaining a skills certificate. By 2009, the CSME would allow all Caribbean nationals to move freely throughout the Caribbean.
"The most striking difference that the creation of the Caribbean single market makes…is in…the provision it makes for the movement of skills and community nationals," Arthur said. Although he says this is not a "finished product nor a perfect instrument," Arthur has high hopes for the CSME and believes that the Caribbean Community will work through challenges to see its positive effects.
Arthur closed by saying, "[The fact that] we have come safely thus far, when so many others have faltered, gives us the assurance that, with perseverance, we shall reach the Promised Land."
Raquel Maya is an intern in the Library's Public Affairs Office.