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Six countries sign on to CSME

Six countries sign on to CSME

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by RICKEY SINGH in JAMAICA

Its operation was ceremonially legalised Monday, January 30, with the signatures of a dozen member states of the region at Mona, the oldest and largest campus of the University of the West Indies, in Jamaica.

The distinguishing difference is that for six member countries, the CSM became legally functional as of January 1, 2006, as the first phase of the much advocated common economic space as characterised by the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).{{more}}

For another six countries, those of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), their “declaration intent” on the CSM becomes operational not later than June 30 this year, instead of March 30 as originally indicated.

Speaking on behalf of the OECS as its current chairman, Vincentian Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told the assembled audience, representative of various sectors of the region, that their entry as a “rear guard” should in no way be confused with their firm commitment to be “in the vanguard” with the other member states in collectively advancing what’s best for Caribbean people.

For host Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, who retires in April and received warm salutations from counterparts for his “unique contributions” to regional unity and progress of CARICOM to the launch of the CSM, it was not by accident that Mona was chosen as the venue for Monday’s historic event.

Mona constituted “Caribbean soil”, the place of many decades of research, learning and concentrated focus on building Caribbean awareness, unity and progress.

Nor did it escape the audience’s attention that all four prime ministers who addressed the signing ceremony – Barbados’ Owen Arthur, Trinidad and Tobago’s Patrick Manning, St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Gonsalves and Jamaica’s Patterson – also had in common, apart from shared commitment to CARICOM’s advancement, the years they spent as students on this campus.

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