Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott displays the signed agreement during a virtual ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs this morning. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

Efforts to further strengthen the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) were facilitated today, with the signing of a Headquarters Agreement between Barbados and the CARICOM Private Sector Organisation (CPSO).

The agreement was signed by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Dr Jerome Walcott; and Chairman of the CARICOM Private Sector Organisation, E. Gervase Warner, in a virtual ceremony.

 In his remarks, Senator Walcott noted that it was an honour to sign on behalf of the Government and people of Barbados, since this country had lead responsibility for the CSME, while Mr. Warner described the initiative “as a great day in history”.

At its 18th Special Meeting in Trinidad and Tobago in December 2018, the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community indicated that deeper involvement of the private sector and its more structured participation in the CARICOM integration process would be beneficial to the achievement of the CSME objectives.

The CPSO is being established out of the recognition by the Conference and representatives of the regional private sector, that the focused input of the regional private sector and labour movement could accelerate progress towards the full implementation of the CSME in particular, and the regional integration process in general.

This would entail full use of labour (full employment); full exploitation of the other factors of production (natural resources and capital); and competitive production leading to greater variety and quantity of products and services to trade with other countries.

The Conference accordingly decided that the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas should be amended to include representative bodies of the Private Sector and the Labour Movement as Associate Institutions.

Consultations among groups of representatives from leading private sector entities in the region endorsed the position of the Conference.

A group of firms, including some of the largest business entities in CARICOM, met and constituted themselves into an Organising Group with the aim of establishing a regional private sector organisation with the specific purpose of working with the Member States of the Caribbean Community to advance the full implementation of the CSME.

The Organising Group of private sector entities is committed to ensuring the design and establishment of an appropriate vehicle to represent the views of the Private Sector in a cooperative engagement with the Organs and Councils of the Caribbean Community.

The objectives of the proposed CPSO are to fully support the Conference and CARICOM Member States with the implementation of the CSME; contribute to the reduction of the ‘implementation deficit’ relating to the decisions and actions on the CSME; monitor the implementation of decisions regarding CSME implementation; advise on mechanisms to resolve disputes among the CARICOM Private Sector, where issues are of strategic importance to the CSME; and formulate positions on issues relating to intra- and extra-regional trade and investment (goods, services, capital and labour, rules-related regimes (i.e. government procurement, contingent rights).

It will also help to substantially reduce current and future impediments to trade and investment faced by business enterprises (non-tariff barriers, free movement of persons, free movement of goods, outdated common external tariff and rules of origin); encourage and facilitate better coordination and complementarities among regional private sector entities in relation to priority policy recommendations and projects in support of the CSME; and provide advocacy at the national and regional levels on key issues that are germane to the advancement of the CSME.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade

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