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La Rocque: CSME a ‘work in progress’

Published: 
Monday, April 16, 2018

Caricom Secretary General, Irwin La Rocque says while the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) continues to be a work in progress, it is sufficiently advanced to be used more effectively by the regional private sector.

The CSME allows for the free movement of goods, skills, services and labour across the 15-member grouping and La Rocque said that it still remains as relevant today as when the idea was first conceived in 1989.

“It represents tremendous potential to provide business opportunities for manufacturing, services and agriculture.

The CSME has been fashioned to provide the opportunity for us to use our resources—human, financial and natural—to build a competitive economy.

“It allows for expanding scope and scale of production, using the skills and capital available in our region, and allowing for cross-border production and production integration,” La Rocque told the annual general meeting of the T&T Manufacturers Association (TTMA).

He said all of the basic elements of the CSME are mutually supportive, be it trade in goods, trade in services, movement of skills and capital and the right of establishment.

“We therefore need to make advances on all elements simultaneously for us to be truly successful,” he said, adding that the CSME is a vehicle through which businesses, utilising the enlarged single space, can expand their horizons to enhance their competitiveness and so use the regional platform as a springboard into the global market.

The region’s top public servant said in that regard, Caricom has negotiated a number of trade agreements with countries such as Venezuela, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Costa Rica, as well as with the European Union.

He predicted that the Caricom market will grow from approximately six to more than 16 million, as soon as Haiti puts the necessary requirements in place to participate in the CSME.

La Rocque said T&T has the largest share of the trade in goods within the Single Market. In 2016, the last year for which Caricom has released regional trade data, the country’s total exports to the rest of Caricom amounted to US734 million dollars, representing 32 per cent of Caricom’s intra-regional exports.

La Rocque said this was the lowest figure in 13 years, due primarily to the drop in energy prices. He said it also represented 10 per cent of T&To’s global exports indicating that Caricom was T&T’s second largest export market in 2017.

He said excluding petroleum and petroleum products, exports to Caricom totalled US567 million dollars or approximately 25 per cent of total intra-regional exports.

Further, non-petroleum exports to Caricom in 2016 represented 11 per cent of T&T’s total global non-petroleum exports, La Rocque said, adding “it is clear, therefore, that the CSME provides an important market for Trinidad and Tobago’s manufacturers”.

La Rocque said these figures do not include trade in services which is a significant aspect of T&T’s trade with the region.

“While the CSME continues to be a work in progress, it is sufficiently advanced to be used more effectively by the private sector. There has been significant progress in several specific ways. There is free trade in goods and services, free movement of skills and capital, and the cross-border establishment of businesses. It is true that there have been some hitches but these are being addressed.”

La Rocque said an important part of the CSME is a mechanism for resolving disputes arising out of rights and responsibilities emanating from the Revised Treaty and decisions of the Organs of the Community. (CMC)

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