KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday June 22, 2018 – Jamaica’s Parliament has adopted the report of the commission set up to review the country’s relations within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), but Prime Minister Andrew Holness says government will not insist on the five-year timeline for the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), as recommended in the document.
The Commission to Review Jamaica’s Relations Within CARICOM, chaired by former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, had been charged with evaluating the effects of Jamaica’s membership in CARICOM on the country’s economic growth and development, with particular reference to trade in goods and services, investment, international competitiveness and job creation.
One of the 33 key recommendations was that Jamaica should withdraw from the CSME if it cannot get CARICOM Heads of Government to agree to fully implement the single market and economy within the five-year period.
But Holness said during debate on the report in the House of Representatives that the timeline was not realistic.
Instead, he said, Jamaica would seek to “get commitments from the various heads for the full and effective implementation of the Common Market, which are things that we can do within the five years.”
He noted the Commission’s recommendations boldly project a way forward in addressing aspects of regional relationships that are not fully meeting their intended objectives.
“Our extensive review of the report has identified recommendations at various stages of readiness for implementation, including some that may not be within our reach at this time for various reasons,” he said.
Among the other recommendations in the report are full free movement of people throughout CARICOM, subject only to exclusions for security and public health reasons; harmonization of customs laws, regulations and procedures, especially in the treatment of perishable goods; and agreed protocols on sanitary and phytosanitary standards and procedures.
On the matter of integrated capital markets, the Prime Minister said it is believed that an agreed protocol for cross-border regulatory cooperation is essential to any custom union.
“In this regard, we support the view that this recommendation is attainable within the next three years. However, we are also mindful that many member states are currently at various stages of reform to bring their regulatory landscape in line with institutional standards. Consequently, there may be need to apply some flexibility with respect to the timeline for full implementation by all member states,” Holness said.
On the right of establishment, as well as the services market, the Prime Minister said these recommendations are well-founded, as member states participating in the CSME have an obligation to remove restrictions on the right of establishment and the right to provide services across the region.
“In relation to the right of establishment, all member states are to pass the requisite regulation to facilitate the movement of managerial, technical and supervisory staff. Jamaica is also assessing its implementation of the regime, to ensure that no further restrictions exist. Jamaica has enacted the Caribbean Community Establishment, Services, Capital and Movement of Community Nationals Act 2004,” Holness noted.
“From a legal perspective, the Commission’s proposal…on the full free movement of persons throughout the Community, which is subject only to exclusions for security and public health reasons, is quite feasible and consistent with the rulings of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ),” he added.
The Prime Minister said it would now be a matter for the organs and bodies of CARICOM, in consultation with the respective members states, to decide whether those goals may be attainable within a five-year time period.
Leader of the Opposition Dr Peter Phillips welcomed the report, saying that it was an “extensive and representative national effort,” which involved widespread consultations, not only within Jamaica but across the Caribbean.
“I think it represents an important and good starting point, and what I would propose is that it become the template that we should ask the assembled Heads of Government of CARICOM to utilise, as they collectively embrace the need to move forward to implement the single market and economy, and to review other aspects of the CARICOM experience,” he said