Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has reiterated that the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) is not an end in itself, but ???a means by which we all hope and intend to bring the people of the Caribbean closer together???.

His comments came as he met with 19 tertiary-level students of The University of the West Indies and a CARICOM Youth Ambassador last week at his official residence, Ilaro Court, in his capacity as lead Prime Minister with responsibility for the CSME.

Mr. Stuart told the students that, over the years, many individuals were constantly asking about the status of the CSME, and where it was going.

He reminded persons that the ???primary, overriding objective of the CSME was the integration of the people of the Caribbean by whatever means regional governments and regional leaders were prepared to use???.

He continued: ???This regional integration movement is of very critical importance to the future of the Caribbean. It is not, and it has never been, a destination. It has always been a journey and there will always be aspects of the regional integration movement on which we can improve and, therefore, there can never come a time when we can throw our arms up in jubilation that we have, at last, become regionally integrated and that we have nothing else to do.???

Mr. Stuart further underscored the point that each CARICOM nation was ???a strand in the regional tapestry???, noting that the Caribbean picture ???only becomes complete when the people of each and every Member State understand that they are part of a larger regional experience???.

Citing the words of late Prime Minister Errol Barrow, who was also one of the signatories to the Treaty of Chaguaramas, Mr. Stuart contended that there was no basis for the people of the region to be ???imbued with a sense of our own inadequacy???.

???We are as good as anybody else and are capable of achieving what people in any part of the world are capable of achieving. But we have to believe in ourselves; we have to orient ourselves to what this region has as its resources ??? its people ??? [and] the quality of its human capital ??? and concentrate on developing the Caribbean,??? he charged.

In his remarks, Communications Specialist at the CSME Unit in Barbados, Salas Hamilton, thanked the Prime Minister for his continued support of the programme. He said that since its inception in 2008, over 200 students from Member States were able to travel to other destinations to see the CSME in action.

Following the meeting, the students journeyed to Jamaica as part of an ongoing exchange programme on the CSME, organised by the CSME Unit. The Prime Minister???s Office worked closely with the CARICOM Secretariat to make the arrangements for the earlier mission by students from Antigua and Barbuda to Barbados in September 2015, and for the current student mission from Barbados.

While in Jamaica, the students will interact with government officials, agencies, and businesses in the areas of the Movement of Skills, Movement of Capital and Rights of Establishment, Movement of Services and the Free Movement of Goods.

University of the West Indies lecturer, Ayana Young-Marshall, is accompanying the students, as well as two officers from the CARICOM Research Unit of the Prime Minister???s Office.??Funding for the programme was facilitated under the 10th European Development Fund.

cathy.lashley@barbados.gov.bb

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