October 29, 2009

Guyana's foreign minister says no time to turn back on CSME
Published on Thursday, October 29, 2009
Source: Caribbean Net News

GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett says Guyana is going full blast to implement of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME) and called on sister member states to view this process as critical to the region's survival, especially in this time of harsh economic environment and social realities.

Rodrigues-Birkett's call came on Wednesday during a public symposium here, under the theme ”Understanding the CSME” at the Guyana International Convention Centre in Georgetown as part of the local efforts to sensitize citizens about the Regional Integration process.

The Foreign Minister who has Responsibility for CARICOM Affairs said since the CSME was signed into being with the Grand Anse Declaration in 1989 there have been tremendous progress in its implementation, however there are still “pressing issues that need to be dealt with urgently."

“I cannot pretend to be unaware of the disenchantment that exists amongst some of our people, many question the benefits of CARICOM as a whole and the seriousness of US policymakers but we cannot turn back now. I think that part of this disinterest is because some people do not see the goals outlined in the Grand Anse declaration in 1981 translated into their day to day experiences,” the Guyanese Foreign Minister stressed.

She noted that while the regional group may be blowing its own trumpet about the achievements of the CSME it must with the same breath address the many pitfalls that stymie the process.

“We cannot speak of being committed to CSME when it is easier for our goods to be exported to Europe than within our territories and we still have some of those issues to deal with,” Rodrigues-Birkett added.

Meanwhile, Programme Manager of the CSME Unit in Barbados, Ivor Carryl, said significant progress has been made over the years in implementing the CSME.

He noted that, despite the many challenges and differences among member states, there are many achievements of the CSME.

Among them he highlighted the free movement of goods, services, capital, skills the Regional Development Fund, the Caribbean Court of Justice and the CARICOM Competition Commission. .

“The entire objective is to deliver to the people of the Caribbean more investment, better jobs, and growth in their personal welfare matters, and that is what this entire CSME process is about,” Carryl noted.

Carryl added that the symposium must be used as an opportunity to examine success and more importantly identify Guyana’s role to get its fair share of the pie.

Guyana is one of the countries that first began the process of implementing the CSME and so far it is progressing in 12 of the 15 CARICOM member states.

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