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OECS formally signs Economic Union

OECS formally signs Economic Union

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The economic union of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) was formalized on Friday, June 18, 2010, at a special signing ceremony in St.Lucia.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves was among the other OCES Leaders who attended the historic occasion which started at 6p.m.{{more}}

Gonsalves was slated to be in St.Lucia since Wednesday, June 16, 2010, but was prevented from leaving St.Vincent and the Grenadines due to a sick-out by LIAT’s pilots that forced the airline to ground all flights for two days.

The prime minister only got a flight on Friday morning when LIAT resumed its operations.

Delivering the keynote address at Friday’s ceremony, OECS Chairman Dr. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, urged the sub-region to continue to press ahead with efforts to deepen the regional integration movement.

“We must take the current where it serves or lose our venture,” said Douglas.

OECS Director General Dr. Len Ishmael also expressed optimism about the venture, likening it to a “christening”.

She credited the OECS for daring to go where no one has gone before, and pointed to previous efforts of integration in the region.

Quoting from the Caribbean’s first ever Nobel Prize winner, Sir Arthur Lewis, she told the gathering that there could be no turning back for the sub-regional grouping which had a common destiny, and was one people.

On Monday, May 31, 2010, while debating the Treaty in Parliament, Gonsalves highlighted the advantages of having an Economic Union.

At the time, Gonsalves noted that the draft treaty on the OECS Economic Union made clear provisions for the free movement of OECS Nationals.

He noted that the treaty was a far more expansive formulation than the formulation in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas in CARICOM.

Unlike CARICOM which declared one of its main goals as freedom of movement of goods and skilled nationals, the OECS Economic Union Treaty stated cleary that freedom of movement for all citizens should be secured within the Economic Union Area.

Gonsalves emphasized that freedom of movement should entail the abolition of any discrimination based on nationality, whether it relates to employment, or remuneration.

The OECS has a population of 600,000, and officials have been calling for the Economic Union to be a model for the entire region to follow.

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