Economic Undertakings

Browne wants CSME implementation gaps closed

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The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, the Honorable Gaston Browne, has called for a shift to address the implementation gaps associated with the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Prime Minister Browne, the outgoing President of CARICOM, stressed that a fully operational CSME was necessary for the region’s post-COVID-19 recovery and that the region could no longer afford the luxury of delaying key instruments.

Prime Minister Browne was addressing the opening ceremony of the Thirty-Third Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government Conference in Belize. The two-day meeting is being held in Ambergris Caye.

The Flagship CSME is a major issue that Chiefs will address at the meeting.

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The need to address some of the challenges facing the Community, Prime Minister Browne said, required urgency in the implementation of the CSME.

“We can no longer afford the luxury of delaying the approval of key instruments such as the financial services agreement, investment policy, incentive schemes and the development and regulation of a regional market securities.

“The full operationalization of the CSME is necessary for the transformation of our economies and to fight for a robust post COVID recovery.

“CARICOM must be able to shift gears and close its gaps in the implementation of its plans, to ensure the full operationalization of the CSME,” Prime Minister Browne said.

The importance of the Flagship CSME was also a key theme in the opening remarks of the Community Chair, Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize, and Dr. Carla Barnett, Secretary General of CARICOM.

Regional Integration Center

Prime Minister Briceno positioned the CSME at the “centre of regional integration” and called it essential for economic recovery and building resilience. He addressed the subject in the context of a new development plan for the region which encompasses creating prosperity for the people of the region, building sustainability and resilience through development interventions and leveraging resource allocations.

“The CSME is central to our integration. Reflecting on our commitments in the 2018 Sainte-Anne declaration, we must redouble our efforts to complete the removal of remaining barriers to intra-regional trade, empower our private sector and give full effect to the free movement regime, including by tackling administrative obstacles.

“The CSME is the answer to the questions of how to reduce the region’s food import bill? How do we generate economic growth? How can we improve and take more advantage of exchanges with extra-regional partners?

“A robust CSME is essential for building resilient economies; it is at the heart of our economic recovery,” said Prime Minister Briceno.

General Secretary Barnett also made reference to building economic resilience and improving intra-regional trade by encouraging the Community to make the CSME “work for all of us”.

“Just as the skills of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) have guided us through the pandemic, the operations of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) have been crucial in times of natural disasters, and the structures of the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) and Regional Security Systems (RSS) have helped protect us from external security threats, we have put in place the tools we can use to build back better after the social and economic damage of the pandemic.

“Now we need to turn that trust we have in these institutions into actions that make the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) work for all of us. Let us set a target to bring intra-regional trade out of the doldrums from 16-18% of our total trade to 25% by 2025,” Dr Barnett said at the opening.

Source: CARICOM today

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