More CARICOM people are to be allowed to seek work in fellow member states, while the process for recognizing skilled nationals is to be eased of a major bureaucratic hurdle, as Barbados and its CARICOM neighbours sought to re-affirm their commitment to the vision of free movement and a shared market space.
The single market, which appeared stalled since the signing of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas in 2001, was given a major jolt when CARICOM heads committed to the St Ann’s Declaration on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), named for the summit’s address at the Trinidad Hilton hotel.
The revelation came following the two-day 18th special meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government, which ended late Tuesday in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
The new agreement, which member states have committed to implement between 2019 to 2020, takes CSME to the next stage of progression while clearing up several ambiguities under the Revised CARICOM Treaty as signed 17 years ago.
The leaders agreed that those member states “so willing” would move towards full free movement within the next three years.
In addition, the declaration moved to include “agricultural workers, beauty service practitioners, barbers and security guards to the categories of skilled nationals who are entitled to move freely and seek employment within the community.
“It was also emphasized that a skills certificate issued by one member state would be recognised by all member states,” the St Ann’s Declaration stated.
The decision was also taken to finalize the regime that permits CARICOM nationals and companies to take part in member governments’ procurement processes by next year while undertaking the necessary steps to allow for mutual recognition of companies incorporated in a CARICOM member state.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who has lead responsibility for the CSME in CARICOM’s quasi-cabinet, told reporters at post-summit briefing last night that renewed commitment by the member states should bring some level of confidence to CARICOM citizens about the stability of its systems, especially in these times of global uncertainty.
“These are times which cause us not to know which side of the bed we are going to wake up on because of the difficulties related to trade wars and the rise of nationalism in the world today. We have therefore against that background to create stability and to be able to create predictability for our citizens wherever possible. We hope that by the actions that we have taken today that we have gone a long way towards giving Caribbean citizens the comfort that their leaders are taking this issue seriously,” said Mottley.
The Prime Minister declared that CARICOM leaders were not just paying lip-service to the process as many have put aside their contentions in the name of progress within the CSME.
Even when there were areas of contention as would naturally be between human beings, far less leaders of countries, the one thing that emerged in this meeting was the absolute commitment to push past those issues and put progress on the regional project ahead of any division, the Prime Minister told journalists.