Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne remains optimistic that CARICOM can achieve deeper integration and eventually a political union.
Prime Minister Browne was speaking on the margins of the 45th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM being held in Trinidad and Tobago.
“CARICOM has reached a level of maturity and I am hopeful that we will end up with a political union. I believe there will be a swell from the ground upwards calling for deeper integration. The reality is that our islands are too small to be viable on our own, especially the micro-states in the OECS sub-region. In order for us to achieve the type of sustainability and develop the type of resilience in light of all our challenges and the vulnerabilities of these small states within CARICOM, I think that it is quintessential that we integrate and move towards the establishment of the single economy and even moreso pursue that ambition of having a political union,” said Prime Minister Browne.
The country’s leader, who noted that the CARICOM Heads meeting will address a wide range of issues, said that integration is necessary if we are to lift the Caribbean people out of poverty and provide them with the best living standards. “On the basis that we are able to further integrate and move towards a political union, means that we will have a more viable entity that will compete with large trading blocks across the world,” he said.
Prime Minister Browne said that Heads will look at a proposal towards advancing the Free Movement Regime under the CSME to include amending the qualification criteria for certain skilled categories. This would also include attestations from previous employers for artisans; and automate the processing of certification of skilled nationals.
In addition, Heads will address the issue of Regional food security, regional coordination on Climate Change, deep-sea mining and security.
Prime Minister Browne will make a presentation to Heads on Antigua and Barbuda hosting of the Fourth United Nations International Conference on Small Island Developing States. As host of the 4th SIDS Conference, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda aims to ensure an outcome that includes a sound set of packages to enable all SIDS to build resilience in the face of global challenges and shocks, while addressing the need for sustained development.
The situation in Haiti, the Caribbean Maritime Security Strategy, Crime as a Public Health Issue and border issues will also form part of the agenda items for the three-day CARICOM Heads meeting which concludes on July 5.
Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne is accompanied to the meeting by CARICOM Ambassador Dr. Clarence Henry and Foreign Service Officer Kurt Williams.
The Hon. Sir Molwyn Joseph is the Acting Prime Minister, while Prime Minister Bowne is out of the country. (Press Statement)