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Economic Union for OECS by June 2010


The Economic Union of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) should be fully operational by June 2010.{{more}}

Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said last Friday the OECS Authority had agreed the Economic Union Treaty would be available for signature by December 31, 2009.

He made the discloure in Antigua during the launch of public consultations on the draft treaty from the OECS Authority, which comprises the Heads of Government of the sub-region.

Following the December signing, the treaty will be inaugurated in June 2010, on the 29th anniversary of the OECS. On that date, all its instruments, protocols and mechanisms will become fully operational, superceding the Treaty of Basseterre, which established the OECS in June 1981.

Describing the new treaty as “more advanced, and better” than the Treaty of Basseterre, Gonsalves stressed that the quest for a closer union of the OECS does not conflict with CARICOM or mean that a deeper union in the wider CARICOM is not desirable. Rather, he said, strengthening of the OECS “adds solidarity to CARICOM”.

He, however, expressed skepticism that “the promise of a CARICOM-wide Single Economy is unlikely to be fulfilled either at all or in a manner sufficiently advantageous to (the OECS)”.

Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands, while expressing their willingness to remain associated with the OECS in its “functional cooperativeness”, have indicated they will not take part in the economic union.

Gonsalves said the OECS Economic Union Treaty does not require any amendment of the existing constitutions of member states, but it would be enacted into domestic law as was the Treaty of Basseterre and the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

The draft of the proposed treaty has as one of its major purposes the establishment of a single economic and financial space for the OECS. It further proposes that the OECS be “an institutional forum to discuss and facilitate constitutional, political and economic changes which would be necessary for the successful participation of member-states in the regional and global economies”. The draft treaty also envisages 21 areas of joint policies and actions.

In order to effect the Economic Union, Article 5 of the treaty provides for a general undertaking by member-countries to delegate legislative competence to the OECS in certain specified areas, including the Common Market, maritime boundaries and jurisdiction, as well as monetary, trade, civil aviation, common commercial, environmental and immigration policies.

The suggested governance arrangements in the treaty centre on five institutions: the Authority of Heads of Government of the OECS; the Council of Ministers; the OECS Assembly; the Economic Affairs Council; and the OECS Commission.

Together these institutions are designed to assist with relevant legislative work and effective administration or implementation, Gonsalves said.

“It is anticipated that in each member-country, a structure similar to the Regional Integration and Diaspora Unit (RIDU) of St. Vincent and the Grenadines would be set up to coordinate the commission’s work at the national level,” the Prime Minister added.

Gonsalves added that notwithstanding the closer ties being forged within the OECS sub-region, its member countries ought to immediately work toward closer political, economic and social relations with Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Guyana.