Basic Features of the Caribbean Common Market

Established by the Treaty of Chaguaramas that was signed by Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Jamaica and Barbados and came into effect in August 1973, the Caribbean Community and Common Market was formed with the aim of creating a common market and the integration of its Member States and economies. Currently the organization membership of the Caribbean Common Market is composed of fifteen full members, five associate members and seven observers.

From its inception, CARICOM has focused on the promotion of integration of its Member States' economies, through coordination of their foreign policies and functional co-operation. The CARICOM Single Market and Economy, frequently referred to as the Caribbean Common Market and Economy is the integrated development strategy, adopted at the tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Caribbean Community's Heads of Government held in July 1989 in Grenada.

Defined in the Grand Anse Declaration were the following tasks and objectives: to deepen economic integration by advancing beyond Caribbean common market towards a single market and economy; to promote the region's integration into the global economic and trading system by strengthening links with non-trading partners; to widen CARICOM membership and expand economic mass of the Caribbean Community. The CARICOM Single Market and Economy aims at benefiting all people of the region by offering better opportunities for producing and selling services and goods and attracting investment.

This, in turn, will create a large market among the member states. Key tasks of the CSME include full employment and exploitation of capital and natural resources; highly competitive production leading to wider variety of services and products to trade with other countries. The achievement of these aims is believed to result in improved standards of living and work and further promote economic development.

As of January 2006, the Caribbean Single Market and Economy has been already implemented and composed of six members. By the end of the year the organization is expected to have twelve full members. However, CSME is believed to be implemented only in 2008, with the harmonization of economic policy. Current full members of both Caribbean Common Market and CSME include Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia, Jamaica, Dominica, Barbados, Suriname, St Kitts and Nevis, Guyana, British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Montserrat, Grenada, Belize and Antigua and Barbuda.

Among the key elements of the CSME are:
- Free movement of services and goods through such measures as harmonizing standards and eliminating barriers to intra-regional movement;
- The right of establishment which implies establishment of CARICOM owned businesses in all member states without any restrictions;
- A Common External Tariff, which is a rate of duty applied by each member of the Caribbean common market to products imported from countries that are not members of this market;
- Free circulation which means free movement of goods and services imported from extra regional sources;
- Free movement of capital through such measures as eliminating foreign exchange control and convertibility of currencies;
- Free movement of labor by removing all impediments to intra regional movement of labor and skills, harmonizing social services
- And establishing common standards for equivalency and accreditation.

Those interested in these and other relevant issues should address Caribbean community online.

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