Press release 54/2011
(20 February 2011)

1989 GRAND ANSE DECLARATION : TAKING STOCK
 

 
(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) More than 20 years ago, the Hon Herbert Blaize, Prime Minister of Grenada and Chairman of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, posited that what was occurring in the Caribbean Community was a microcosm of the international scene. He was at the time delivering the feature address at the opening of the Tenth Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government in 1989 in St. George’s.

In order for the Region to survive successfully, Prime Minister Blaize was of the opinion that the Community had to “reconfirm that we are one people, with the same heritage, the same history, the same culture and the same destiny.”

His Excellency Desmond Hoyte, President of Guyana, the Hon, Michael Manley, Prime Minister of Jamaica, and the Hon. A.N.R. Robinson, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, also spoke at the opening of that historic Meeting.

Said President Hoyte: “These critical times demand that at every level of our society, in every area of endeavour, we enlarge our vision beyond our individual countries and assume the habit of thinking in regional terms

“…we must, as we are now doing, look beyond to the 21st century. What is the further shape of that world economy? What is the nature of the historical locomotive that rushes upon us even as we speak? We must have an immediate task and a vision of the future,” said Prime Minister Manley.

“Consequently, the time is propitious for major reexamination of where we have reached in our efforts at integration and of where we want to go. Against the background of our conclusions from this exercise, we can then revise our goals setting dates and targets and challenging ourselves to new levels of genuine cooperation in our quest for a better life for all the peoples of the region,” Prime Minister Robinson said in his address.

Those statements set the tone for the historic 1989 Grand Anse Declaration which put forward the advancement of the regional integration process through the creation of a Single Market and Economy, as the Community’s attempt to position itself to respond to the anticipated challenges and to take advantage of the trends in the global arena.

As a different composition of the Conference of Heads of Government meets in Grenada for their Intersessional Meeting this week - seized of course with the new challenges that face the Community in the current milieu of economic downturn and the consequences it has and will spawn - they will no doubt reflect on the Grand Anse Declaration, assess the strides the Community has made, provide their own vision for its future and prioritise actions to fulfill their vision.

Since 1989, the Community has made significant strides to give effect to the vision outlined in Grenada. In recognition that people, rather than institutions, are at the centre of any development and modernization that would take place in the Community, the Grand Anse Declaration set out clear pathways for the advancement of Region’s human resource and the fostering of greater regionalism.

Education

Advancements have been made in education in the Region. While the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) preceded CARICOM, it has today progressed from assisting in `Common Entrance’ and providing regionally and internationally recognized secondary school-leaving examinations that are relevant to the needs of the Region, and offering both academic and technical/vocational subjects, to a system that currently offers the Caribbean Proficiency Examination (CAPE) which has replaced the GCE Advanced Level examinations that was offered by the United Kingdom. CXC has been hailed as a catalyst in developing a common Caribbean school system and is now being used as a model for other countries around the world.

Also in the realm of education, a common system of regional vocational qualifications based on regionally accepted occupational standards was established in 2007. The Caribbean Voctional Qualification (CVQ) allows the region to bridge the divide between the global labour market’s requirement and specifications and the Region’s ability to supply a highly competent and confident workforce.

Youth

A key stakeholder in the CSM is the Region’s youth and as part of the efforts to engage and encourage youth, the CARICOM Youth Ambassador Programme (CYAP) was launched in 1993. That programme involves young persons in a variety of activities in their countries and at the regional level to equip them with skills and knowledge so that they can educate their peers about the regional integration movement in order to build a sense of `Caribbean-ness’.

The challenges and opportunities for youth in the CSME were the subjects of a full scale analysis mandated by CARICOM Heads of Government in 2006. The analysis was conducted by the now four-year old CARICOM Commission on Youth Development (CCYD) which was also mandated to make recommendations on how best to empower them and improve their well-being. After three years of concentrated research, the CCYD’s presented its report: Eye on the Future: Invest in YOUTH NOW for the Community Tomorrow, to the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government at the Summit on Youth Development in Paramaribo, Suriname in January 2010.

Youths were also the focus of a CARICOM Secretariat-initiated exercise within the past two years which saw a series of exchange tours for university students to encourage buy-in to the CSME so that they could pursue benefits available to them under the enterprise. So far, more than 200 youths have travelled to varying Member States, observing the CSME in motion.

Health

In 2002, the Heads of Government adopted the Nassau Declaration under the rubric, “The Health of the Region is the Wealth of the Region,” and have pursued that path rigorously.

Regional milestones in health include:

-  the establishment of the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) that aims to achieve universal access to services with regard to care and treatment, stigma and discrimination for people living with HIV/AIDS;

-  the CARICOM Commission on Health and Development which was aimed at examining the extent to which health contributes to economic development and promote equity in health Progress on addressing chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

CARICOM has successfully advocated for a special United Nations High Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases to be held in September, following up on the Summit on NCDs held in Trinidad and Tobago in 2007. The Summit resulted in a declaration with 15 action areas which now form the basis for national and regional action to combat diseases. 

Caribbean Wellness Day is now observed on the second Saturday of September and serves as a climax to a week of activities which focus national and regional attention on the issue.

Hassle-free travel

With regard to hassle-free travel, the Community is on the cusp of installing the CARIPASS regime which will eliminate the requirement for passports for CARICOM nationals travelling to other CARICOM Member States. The CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) is coordinating this project which has been touted as the world’s first multilateral border crossing programme.

The CARIPASS will allow CARICOM citizens and legal residents of the participating states over the age of sixteen (16) years to access a safe and secure automated self-processing gate within selected airports.

Even before that initiative, 12 Member States had issued CARICOM passports, as a symbol of regionalism and visible proof of a common identity. CARICOM nationals should also be allowed an automatic 60 day stay on entering Member States.

CARICOM SINGLE MARKET AND ECONOMY

The transformation from the Common Market towards the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) was grounded in the revision of the Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the Caribbean Community including the CSME. The new Treaty became effective in 2001 and the Single Market came into being in 2006.

Over the short span of five years since the CSM became operational, the free movement of skilled and professional CARICOM nationals has moved from five initial categories to ten. Those nationals, issued with Skill Certificates as required by the regulations, can move without the need for work permits and visas, as envisaged by the Grand Anse Declaration, are: university graduates; media workers; artistes; musicians; sportspersons; nurses; teachers; persons who are holders of Associate Degrees or equivalent; artisans and household domestics who are holders of Caribbean Vocational Qualifications. More than 8,000 certificates have been issued.

At its Thirtieth Meeting in July 2009, the Conference requested the conduct of a comprehensive study on migration, to determine the impact of free movement in their respective countries. Work is in progres and will inform decisions on the future scope and expansion of the eligible categories of skills for free movement, taking into account the results of the study on migration.

Economic Development

In keeping with the Declaration’s identification of a scheme for the movement of capital beginning with the cross-listing and trading of securities, one of the first steps to be undertaken was the commencement of cross-border trading among the three existing stock exchanges in Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. Since then, stock exchanges have been established in the OECS, and Guyana.

Since 1989, there has been a steady increase in intra-regional trade in goods reaching an all time high of $3.2 billion US in 2008. In 2004, intra-regional trade was in the vicinity of $1.6B. The increase was attributed to progress with respect to the removal of barriers to trade as decreed in Grand Anse, a significant achievement for the Community.

Progress has been recorded in the various sectors of economic integration such as services and agriculture. The Services Sector is the largest sector in the CSME and currently accounts for more than two-third of total employment, output and exports. Much importance has been placed on the agriculture sector as the vehicle through which the growing food import bill would be reduced and food security for the Region attained.

The progress under the Single Market is due in no small measure to a number of regional institutions that have been established to support the initiative.

Among them is the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) which is geared at providing `legal certainty’ to the operations of the CSME. Agreement for the establishment of the court came in 2001. The court, inaugurated in 2005 has two jurisdictions – Original for interpretation of the Revised Treaty and Appellate as the final court of appeal in all matters. All Member States subscribe to the original jurisdiction of the Court but not all have signed on to the Appellate jurisdiction. The CCJ will ultimately create a framework of legal precedents that would be truly indigenous to the Caribbean.

Other institutions have been established that would set the standards, for example, for trade in goods under the CSME including, the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), and the Caribbean Agricultural Health Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA), while the CARICOM Competition Commission is geared at promoting competition and protecting consumers from firms abusing their dominant position in the Market.

Another key institution is the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) which began to function in 2003. Among its objectives is to provide comprehensive policy and technical support in the area of climate change and related issues. The CCCCC has been very active in conducting research and analysis and in disseminating vital information to countries to help efforts to mitigate the damage being caused by climate change

Coordination of foreign policy and external relations

CARICOM has recorded significant progress and successes in the area of coordination of foreign policy through strong, well articulated and coordinated regional positions on a range of issues in the international fora such as democracy, climate change, colonialism, human rights, apartheid, terrorism, anti-personnel land mines, Law of the Sea, small states and maintaining solidarity with the rest of the world in pursuit of a more equitable international political and economic environment.

Structured dialogue has been undertaken between the Community and Third States and institutions in order to broaden the Community’s economic space, exploit resources, preserve security and address common problems. Other achievements include the support for Community candidates to various international positions where they have been able to promote issues and concerns of importance to Member States and other small states and developing countries.

CARICOM has also initiated and lobbied for the establishment of the Association of CARICOM States which brings together more than 200 million people in those countries that border the Caribbean Sea.

The Grand Anse Declaration’s provision for joint representation in international economic negotiations and the sharing of facilities and offices led to the signing of the Montego Bay Declaration which gave rise to the creation of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM) which has since become the Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN), a unit within the CARICOM Secretariat. The organization is aimed at ensuring that CARICOM’s interests were recognized and that its concerns were advanced in international negotiations.

The OTN is currently pursuing negotiations for a Trade and Development Agreement with Canada. The successful negotiation of a Trade and Development Agreement with Canada together with the CARIFORUM-EC EPA will not only be of significant strategic interest to the Region but also provide opportunities for the private sector and job creation.

In framing the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, certain areas were identified for further elaboration within the scope of the CSM namely: government procurement; rights contingent on establishment provision of services, movement of persons and movement of capital in the Community,; trade involving free zones and similar jurisdictions; free circulation; and electronic commerce. Work is being done in all five areas to inform regional policy.

WORK IN PROGRESS ON THE CSME

As the Community seeks to advance the Single Market, work is continuing on a number of legislative actions and other reforms that Member States need to take in the areas of institutions, regulations and administrative arrangements in the five core regimes of the CSM – free movement of goods, free movement of capital, free movement of skills, free movement of services and the right to establish a business, for example.

Progress is also ongoing in the harmonization of commercial type legislation, as well as in the regulatory and supporting areas such as competition, consumer protection, intellectual property and harmonization of product standards.

Transportation

The Grand Anse Declaration placed particular emphasis on the provision of transportation as indispensable to the development of the Single Market and the Community. While transportation has been a challenging area in the Community’s evolution, steps have been made, particularly with respect to establishing of an administrative body to harmonise certain procedures and to boost air transport.

The Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System (CASSOS) was inaugurated in 2009 to assist Member States in efforts to comply with regional and international aviation standards including maintaining these standards at a level to ensure Category 1 status of the airports under the United States Federal Aviation Authority system. This is crucial to the Tourism sector as that status permits air carriers to fly between our airports and airports at major US destinations and also allows regional airlines greater access to other destinations across the world.

A CARICOM Transport Policy is being developed to provide adequate, safe and internationally competitive transport services for the development and consolidation of the CSME.

Contingent Rights

Work is ongoing in the area of Contingent Rights for persons who are moving within the CSME. While people are taking advantage of the regimes such as the free movement of skills and the right to establish businesses, there have been facilitations with regard to access to healthcare, and education facilities for example. But these are not yet rights as envisioned. The principle is that a CARICOM National who exercises the rights connected to free movement should have access to publicly provided goods and services. The challenge is one of capacity in the Member States.

Single Economy

The Single Economy, which is much broader in scope than the CSM, involves agreements and rules and procedures for cooperation in areas such as monetary, fiscal, exchange rates and sectoral policies by Member States. At the request of Heads of Government in 2006, a pathway was developed in a document entitled “Towards a Single Economy and a Draft Single Development Vision”. This was accepted by Heads of Government in 2007 and a Strategic Plan for Regional Development is being drawn up to give effect to the vision.

Instruments for the operation of the Single Economy are now taking shape and these include the CARICOM Investment Code and the Financial Services Agreement, with work in progress on integrating capital markets by way of harmonization of the legal and regulatory frameworks.

The CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) which is geared to provide financial or technical assistance to countries, regions and sectors disadvantaged due to the operations of the Single Market, began its operations in 2009.

Conclusion 

The preamble to the Grand Anse Declaration and Work Programme for the Advancement of the Integration Movement reads in part that Heads of Government were : “moved by the need to work expeditiously together to deepen the integration process and strengthen the Caribbean Community in all of its dimensions to respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by the changes in the global economy.” Today, in following that vision the Community has established itself as the longest surviving integration movement among developing countries, to which similar movements have turned for guidance.

CONTACT: piu@caricom.org
 

 
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