It is common knowledge that I am perfectly happy to come
to Jamaica merely to engage in light pursuits. You
will therefore appreciate how special it feels to be
here to be part of an occasion which holds the
promise of making such a significant difference to
the future of our Region and the lives of its
I have today, on behalf of the Government and
people of Barbados signed the declaration marking
the coming in to being of the CARICOM Single Market,
very conscious of the extraordinary legacy of which
I am proud to be a part. A Barbadian National Hero
was the only Prime Minister of the West Indies
Federation. Another of our National Heroes, and a
Prime Minister of Barbados, was at the founding of
both CARIFTA and CARICOM, and was in every respect
and moreso than any other Caribbean citizen the
architect of economic integration as we have come to
know it in the Caribbean.
I regard it as being among my most important
contributions as Prime Minister of Barbados to have
led our nation to end centuries of colonial history
and dependence by ending our relationship with the
British Privy Council, and accepting the
jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice in
all of its aspects.
It is in this spirit that this evening I solemnly
pledge Barbados' complete support to making the
Caribbean Single Market and Economy successful.
I do so, conscious of the extraordinary
obligation that rests upon us to make Caribbean
unity an effective instrument by which to achieve
If we were to succeed, as we must, in making the
15 nations of CARICOM one Single Market and Economy,
the stark reality is that such a Regional economy
would still be the smallest and most vulnerable
economic bloc in a globalised world.
Ours is therefore the Region in today's world
where integration is most sorely needed as the
indispensable foundation on which to rest national
and Regional endeavours in pursuit of equitable and
We have tried all the others — various
relationships and configurations with metropolitan
powers, self-determination and national
It is time to now give Caribbean unity a chance.
I have signed this Declaration this evening as
the Prime Minister with the lead responsibilities
for the creation of the CSME driven by no
sentimentality, but by the pragmatic expectations of
what we can now achieve for our people.
The rights that Caribbean nationals will now, for
the first time, enjoy to establish enterprise
wherever they wish in their Region and will release
entrepreneurial energy that has been bottled up for
far too long in the Caribbean.
Our Regional society is the product of the ordeal
of migrant labour. The conditions under which the
Caribbean labour forced has been required over time
to relate to our Regional economy — beginning with
slavery — have been the shabbiest part of our
tortured economic history.
Economic integration in today's Caribbean would
be a sterile and meaningless exercise were it not to
have, at its very centre, a new dispensation,
involving new rules for labour mobility, that
affords the ordinary man and the ordinary woman the
prospect of improving their circumstances by having
a new and improved relationship with a new Regional
As Barbadian families in the past have owed their
very livelihood to the opportunity that was afforded
us to access what Guyana had to offer, I trust that
Guyanese families will be able today to improve
their lot by having a share in what we have in
Our Caribbean Single Market and Economy also
offers our producers the opportunities to slip the
boundaries of small markets. It can also widen our
options to create more competitive enterprises by
enabling them to have access, without restrictions,
to Regional pools of capital and skills. I could go
on. I however rather prefer to say that the
benefits we seek from the CSME will not be achieved
without sustained commitment and courage.
We must never forget that the Political
Federation of the West Indies floundered not so much
because of political or constitutional issues, but
largely because of irreconcilable economic and
Let us therefore as we set out on this new
endeavour in Caribbean Unity acknowledge that
respective nations in our Region come to this moment
with widely differing capabilities to participate
in, and to benefit from the economic integration
that has been designed.
The immediate challenge before us is to put the
mechanisms in place to ensure that a Caribbean
Single Market and Economy does not become a
permanent coalition of unequals, but that its
benefits are shared by all. The member States of the
Caribbean have also evolved as economic systems
distinctly separated from each other, but closely
and effectively integrated into the economics of the
advanced, metropolitan economics.
It would be illusory and disingenuous not to
accept that our Regional economy even with the
advent of the CSME, will still be responsive in many
respects, largely to extra Regional demand.
We must however, make the CSME matter by enabling
it to add value to Caribbean development by
accomplishing things in those areas where our
traditional relationships have failed us — achieving
food security on a Regional basis, inserting a
Regional economy into the global economy in
circumstances where it would be virtually impossible
to do so successfully on an individual basis to
mention but a few areas.
I wish again, on this matter, to emphasise that
the CSME represents the most effective means by
which the individual economies of our Region can be
successfully integrated into the evolving global
economic system on terms that will enable us to
minimize the costs and dislocation that ensue from
that integration, while maximizing the potential
benefits. However, the onerous demands of the
various negotiating theaters we now find ourselves
in require nothing but the most sophisticated and
dedicated levels of cooperation on our part.
The Caribbean Community cannot succeed in today's
world if it speaks in a weak and ineffectual voice
with uncertain sound. We should also not expect that
our external partners will sit patiently in our
waiting rooms while we sort out our internal
affairs. The external challenges facing the
Caribbean community in a shrinking and uncertain
world, and the questions we must resolve about our
own shape and structure are inseparably linked.
This gives a special urgency to this enterprise
to create the CSME in the shortest practical time.
Prime Minister Patterson, you must allow me this
last opportunity in your presence, on Jamaican soil,
in your capacity as Prime Minister of Jamaica to
salute the contribution you have made to Caribbean
unity and development.
The thirty (30) years you have devoted to the
service of Caribbean integration dealing with some
of its most demanding matters, have not to date been
exceeded by any Caribbean citizen, and it is hardly
likely to be exceeded by that of any citizen of the
It is the fact that such monumental efforts can
come from a citizen of the Caribbean that gives us
the confidence to believe that we can make the CSME
Your friends in Barbados salute you, and wish you
every blessing in your retirement.
Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, as Prime
Minister with lead responsibility for the
implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and
Economy, this is for me a proud yet sobering moment.
I am forced to reflect on where we have come from,
full in the knowledge that none of us was there when
this all began. I am equally aware of where this
Region must go, again cognizant of the fact that
none of us might be there when the Caribbean
Community reaches it desired destination. The task
for us is to do what we can here. and now to ensure
a safe and successful onward journey.
Let us, therefore, to the task.