Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 11th 2015 Contents For more than 50 years there
have been efforts to unite the
Caribbean on several fronts.
In the early 60s, the Feder-
ation failed. Twenty-odd
years later another attempt
at unification was discussed
and strategised, but attempts at fulsome exe-
cution have not really materialised. Leaders
have come and gone, but the achievement of
full Caribbean integration remains an elusive
In 1989, then secretary general of Caricom,
Roderick Rainford, told leaders: "Experience
has taught us by now that the quest for inte-
gration is something in the nature of an epic
struggle, a struggle for congruence between
what we proclaim and what we are able to
do, a struggle to negotiate, design and erect
structures of co-operation and integration
where national interest and regional purpose
are brought into harmony."
He was, at the time, addressing the 10th
Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Gov-
ernment (annual Caricom) at Grand Anse in
A more concise definition of integration
was and remains hard to come by.
So when, on January 30, 2006, another sec-
retary general of Caricom---this time in the
person of Dr Edwin Carrington---chose to
repeat these words at the formal launch of
the Caricom Single Market (the economy seg-
ment was not ready to be launched at the
time), he was telegraphing to the leaders gath-
ered in Kingston, Jamaica the need to keep
pushing Caribbean integration forward.
The Caricom Single Market and Economy
(CSME) is intended to benefit the people of
the region by providing more and better oppor-
tunities to produce and sell our goods and
services and to attract investment. It is sup-
posed to create one large market among the
participating member states.
Main objectives of the CSME are:
• full use of labour and full exploitation of
the other factors of production;
• competitive production leading to greater
variety and quantity of products and services
to trade with other countries.
It is expected that these objectives would,
in turn, provide improved standards of living
and work and sustained economic develop-
Prior to its launch, the single market had
generated a lot of discussion and expectation
all along the archipelago and was seen in the
region as a truly fantastic accomplishment,
moreso, as it signalled a coming together of
Caribbean people, something which had evaded
them for decades.
Dr Carrington, in his launch address, said:
"That is what the single market and the single
economy to come, are intended to do. That
imperative, so clearly foreseen then, remains
no less urgent in today s world, one which
presents us as small, developing countries the
stark choice; integrate or perish.
Although his tenure at Caricom ended years
ago, the words of Dr Carrington still ring true:
"integrate or perish".
Some countries in the region still lag behind
in so far as their legislation and connected
framework are concerned and since the global
financial crisis of 2008-09 has thrown many
of them into an economic tailspin, survival---
rather than integration---has become their
Although the Grande Anse Declaration of
1989 was when the free movement of skills
initiative was born, there arose the need to
modify it as time went by to facilitate imple-
mentation of the mandate of the declaration.
After some deliberation and dialogue, it was
decided to implement free movement of skills
in a phased system, although it is recognised
by all that the ultimate goal is free movement
for all. This meant, however, that member
states had to complete a number of legal steps,
including enacting and proclaiming legislation
and put in place the necessary administrative
and procedural framework.
In January 1996, Caricom nationals who
were university graduates were allowed to
move about freely in the region for work pur-
poses. Six months later, the conference widened
the categories of professionals and workers to
be allowed free movement to include sports
persons, artistes and media workers.
Subsequently, over 2007-2010 more cate-
gories were added including non graduate
teachers, professional nurses, artisans with
Caribbean Vocational Qualifications, holders
of associate degrees and household domestics
with a Caribbean Vocational Qualification.
Now more than a decade later, the freedom
of movement of people within the region is
still far from being universal, with each country
interpreting the various conference mandates
in different ways. In a way the barriers that
are being put up by some island states is a
straight case of protection of turf.
However, to subdue the perception that jobs
would be lost to nationals of other islands,
the conference agreed to an initiative that was
critical to the process of free movement of
people: the Certificate of Recognition of Cari-
com Skills Qualification, more commonly
referred to as the Skills Certificate.
Persons in the particular categories who
were to take advantage of the free movement
of persons and skills in the region are advised
to arm themselves with their Skills Certificate.
In every Caricom country there are desig-
nated government ministries with the respon-
sibility of issuing the Skills Certificate. But
although this document can be issued either
by a ministry of agency in the home country
as well as the host country, experience has
shown that it is better to have the certificate
when you leave your homeland.
Over time, however, there seems to be an
equality in individuals moving around the
region freely seeking job or business oppor-
In many instances, movement is dictated
by prevailing economic conditions in any one
country which compels nationals to migrate
and settle in another island state whose eco-
nomic fortunes are better. Once settled in and
having consolidated their positions, they
encourage immediate family members, relatives
and friends to join them.
In these circumstances, if new arrivals do
not conform to the accepted categories and
they could impact on the host country s social
services---education, health, housing etc---
stretching them to limits that were not envi-
sioned by government or agency planners.
However, there s the other argument, that
migrants who work, pay taxes and put money
into the economy through local spending:
food, transportation, rents and leases of vehicles
and accommodations and participation in paid
social and sporting activities.
There is also the serious question of remit-
tances, that is, monies earned that are sent
back to the migrants homeland to support
families or pay off debts left behind. This dou-
ble-edged sword hurts the economy of the
host country, but supports that of the recipient
Now in the second decade of the new mil-
lennium, true Caribbean integration in large
part remains an illusion. Global circumstances
have seriously slowed down the process. Inde-
cision and lack of political has been cited by
some commentators as reasons that has served
to stymie the integration movement, still recog-
nised as an imperative to the sustainable devel-
opment of Caribbean peoples.
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JUNE 2015 • WEEK TWO
T&T Chamber of
Industry and Commerce
CSME and free movement
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