Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has told a group of visiting University of the West Indies (UWI) students that they should not see the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME) as an end in itself, while warning that the regional integration movement, though important, will never come to any final destination.
“It is not, and it has never been, a destination,” Stuart cautioned.
“It has always been a journey and there will always be aspects of the regional integration movement on which we can improve and, therefore, there can never come a time when we can throw our arms up in jubilation that we have, at last, become regionally integrated and that we have nothing else to do,” the Prime Minister told the 19 UWI students, who were accompanied by a CARICOM Youth Ambassador. The visit to his official residence took place last week but was only reported by the Barbados Government Information Service in a release today.
In response to the many individuals who have been asking about the status of the CSME and where it is going, Stuart, who has lead prime ministerial responsibility for the CSME’s creation, said it was “a means by which we all hope and intend to bring the people of the Caribbean closer together”.
He emphasized that while the regional integration movement was of very critical importance to the future of the Caribbean the “primary, overriding objective of the CSME was the integration of the people of the Caribbean by whatever means regional governments and regional leaders were prepared to use”.
Stating that each CARICOM nation was “a strand in the regional tapestry”, he further argued that the Caribbean picture “only becomes complete when the people of each and every member state understand that they are part of a larger regional experience”.
However, citing the words of late Prime Minister Errol Barrow, who was also one of the signatories to the Treaty of Chaguaramas which established CARICOM, Stuart said there was no basis for the people of the region to be “imbued with a sense of our own inadequacy”.
“We are as good as anybody else and are capable of achieving what people in any part of the world are capable of achieving. But we have to believe in ourselves; we have to orient ourselves to what this region has as its resources – its people – [and] the quality of its human capital . . . and concentrate on developing the Caribbean,” he said.
In his remarks, Communications Specialist at the CSME Unit in Barbados Salas Hamilton thanked the Prime Minister for his continued support of the programme. He said that since its inception in 2008, over 200 CARICOM students were able to travel to other destinations to see the CSME in action.
From Bridgetown, the students journeyed to Jamaica as part of an ongoing CSME exchange programme, organized by the CSME Unit. The Prime Minister’s Office worked closely with the CARICOM Secretariat to make the arrangements for the earlier mission to Barbados by students from Antigua and Barbuda in September 2015, as well as for last week’s visit.
While in Jamaica, the students will interact with government officials, agencies, and businesses in the areas of the movement of skills, movement of capital and rights of establishment, movement of services and the free movement of goods.
University of the West Indies lecturer Ayana Young-Marshall is accompanying the students, as well as two officers from the CARICOM Research Unit of the Prime Minister’s Office.
Funding for the programme was facilitated under the 10th European Development Fund.