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Small Islands must be aggressive

Small Islands must be aggressive


A CARICOM official says that the free movement of persons within the region is key to the development of the single market, and warns persons not to allow their emotions and a misguided nationalistic thinking to disrupt the ongoing process.{{more}}

Steven Mac Andrew is the Free Movement of Skills and Labour specialist attached to CARICOM’s CSME Unit, and during a CSME Unit visit to this country earlier this week, he spoke to SEARCHLIGHT.

“With respect to free movement, the greatest challenge has been to make people aware that we are one community, that we have decided to join forces to ensure development is happening within this region, and that the free movement of persons is a necessary component of any genuine single market,” said Mac Andrew.

He said that there are still persons who believe that their particular country could become flooded with persons from other countries, because of the free movement policy.

Mac Andrew told SEARCHLIGHT that he only sees this becoming an issue in the event of a natural disaster, when someone may rather migrate to another CARICOM territory, rather than wait until their country and its economy is rebuilt.

As regards the encouragement of investments in smaller territories like St Vincent and the Grenadines, Mac Andrew said that aggression is the key.

“St Vincent and the Grenadines has to be aggressive, so as to attract investments here; this new regime will call for aggression,” he said.

He also said that the mindset that huge investments may only come from persons outside the region is also misplaced.

“We make the mistake to think that there is no capital within the region,” Mac Andrew said.

Mac Andrew also expressed his disappointment with the turnout of local businesses at the forum that the CSME unit had with the private sector.

He said that while he did not know the reasons for the small turn out, he hopes it is not an indication of a business attitude that says “I am happy with what I have now, so I don’t care about the opportunities available.”

“They must be aware that because of CSME, persons could come in and impact on what they have,’ Mac Andrew warned.

He said that while the small business, “the little corner store’, will always have a place in our societies, many businesses that are relaxing with their relative success could find this threatened by regional, extra regional competitors, who come and cut into the market.