The future of regional integration is bright, says Caricom chairman

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St Lucia’s Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet (Photo: facebook.com)

Chairman of the Caribbean Community, (Caricom) Prime Minister Allen Chastanet says the future of regional integration is looking bright. 

He made the declaration in his end of year message.

Chastanet made note of instances where the 15-member regional body stood in solidarity with countries that were facing adversities, and celebrated the victories of others. 

When St Vincent and the Grenadines made history in June this year by becoming the smallest nation to be elected to the United Nations security council, Chastanet said, “It engendered great pride in both the country and Caricom, demonstrating that there is still space at the highest global forum for us as small states.”

The St Lucian Prime Minister also highlighted how the Caribbean stood firmly by the side of The Bahamas when it was devastated by Hurricane Dorian in September.

“It was heart-wrenching for me to witness first-hand the aftermath of that catastrophe which claimed many lives and demolished property and infrastructure. However, it was heart-lifting to see the response, as, once again, the other members of the community, both individually and regionally, rallied to the support of a sister state in distress, under the direction of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).” he said. 

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The aftermath of Hurricane Dorian (Photo: Al Jazeera.com)

Pointing out that Hurricane Dorian was a reminder of the effects of climate change, and the Caribbean’s vulnerability, he said the “Castries Call for Collective Commitment and Action on Sustainable Development” adopted by regional leaders at their summit in St Lucia in July,” is even more relevant now.

He urged Caribbean nationals not to neglect their responsibility to maintain the environment.

CSME continues to grow

Chastanet said that the Caribbean continues to build its economic resilience with the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).

“We are seeking to ensure that its benefits are enjoyed by all our people. Families that move with skilled nationals taking up jobs in other member states can have access to social services such as primary health care and education up to secondary school level on the same basis as nationals,” he said.

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And for businesses within the region, Chastanet said. “An agreement that allows for open bidding on government contracts among all participating CSME countries opens a market estimated to be close to one billion US dollars for the private sector including small and medium enterprises.”

He said Caricom has also moved to institutionalise the relationship between the “Councils of our Community”, the private sector and labour. It has designated the Caricom Private Sector Organisation (CPSO) and the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL) as associate institutions of the community.

Chastanet will be replaced as Caricom’s Chairman at the start of the new year by Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley.