The Caribbean Community and Common Market

The Caribbean Community and Common Market or CARICOM was established by the Treaty of Chaguaramas which came into effect on August 1, 1973. The first four signatories were Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.

CARICOM replaced the 19651972 Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA), which had been organized to provide a continued economic linkage between the English-speaking countries of the Caribbean following the dissolution of the West Indies Federation which lasted from January 3, 1958 to May 31, 1962.

A Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the Caribbean Community including the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) was signed by the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community on July 5 2001 at their Twenty-Second Meeting of the Conference in Nassau, The Bahamas.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has become unofficially multilingual in practice with the addition of Dutch-speaking Suriname on July 4, 1995 and Haiti, where French and Haitian Creole are spoken, on July 2, 2002.

In 2001, the heads of government signed a Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas thus clearing the way for the transformation of the Common Market aspect of CARICOM. Part of the revised treaty includes the establishment and implementation of the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Currently CARICOM has 15 full members:

There are five associate members:

There are seven observers:

Since March 2004, Haiti's participation in CARICOM was suspended by its interim Prime Minister, Gerard Latortue in response the visit of Jean-Bertrand Aristide (the ousted President) to Jamaica. Haiti's membership had been effectively suspended though since February 29, 2004 as CARICOM refused to recognize the new interim government. In early June 2006, Haiti was readmitted as a full member of the CARICOM, and Haitian President Rene Preval gave the opening address at the organization's Council of Ministers meeting in July.

In July 1999, Anguilla once again became involved with CARICOM when it gained associate membership. Prior to this, Anguilla had briefly been a part of CARICOM (1974-1980) as a constituent of the full member state of Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla.

In 2005 the Foreign Minister of the Dominican Republic had proposed seeking to obtain full membership status in CARICOM for his country; however, due to the sheer size of the Dominican Republic's economy and population size in comparison with the current CARICOM states, and coupled with the Dominican Republic's checkered history of foreign policy solidarity with the CARICOM states it is unclear whether the CARICOM states will unanimously vote to admit the Dominican Republic as a full member into the organization.It has been proposed that CARICOM may deepen ties with the Dominican Republic through the auspice of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) instead, which is an organisation that stops just short of the proposed political integration which will underpin CARICOM at a later date. Currently, the Dominican Republic also has a free trade agreement (from 2001) with CARICOM and also cooperates with CARICOM (since 1992) under the umbrella organization, Cariforum, in economic negotiations with the EU.

Structure of CARICOM

After the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, CARICOM reorganised itself into a state like Government structure made up of the following branches:

The Executive

Comprising of a rotating prime ministerial Chairmanship of CARICOM (Head of CARICOM), the CARICOM Secretary General (Chief Executive) and the CARICOM Headquarters secretariat (Chief Administrative Organ). There is also a quasi Cabinet of individual Heads of Government who are given specific responsibility or portfolios for overall regional development and integration.

The Legislative

The Community Council: The Council consists of Ministers responsible for Community Affairs and any other Minister designated by the Member States in their absolute discretion. It is one of the the principal organs (the other being the Conference of the Heads of Government) and is supported by four other organs and three bodies.

Supporting Organs

Supporting Bodies

The Legal Affairs Committee: provides legal advice to the organs and bodies of the Community (related: CARICOMLaw)

The Budget Committee: examines the draft budget and work programme of the Secretariat and submits recommendations to the Community Council; and,

The Committee of Central Bank Governors: provides recommendations to the COFAP on monetary and financial matters The Judiciary

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) will act as the original jurisdiction for settlement of disputes on the functioning of the Caribbean (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME), as well as serving as an appellate court of last resort for member states which have severed their country's ties with the Privy Council in London, United Kingdom. The CCJ is based in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

CARICOM Single Market and Economy

Three countries: Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago had originally set January 5, 2005 as the date of signing the agreement relating to the (CSME), the ceremony had then been rescheduled to coincide with the February 19, 2005 inauguration of the new CARICOM-headquarters building in Georgetown, Guyana. But this was later posponed after a ruling by the London Privy council caused alarm to several Caribbean countries.

The prospect was that ten of the remaining twelve CARICOM countries would join the CSME by the end of 2005. The Bahamas and Haiti were not expected to be a part of the new economic arrangement at that time. The CARICOM Secretariat maintains frequent contact with another organisation named the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), which represents seven Full members and two Associate members of CARICOM in the Eastern Caribbean. Many of the OECS countries are seeking to maintain themselves as a micro-economic grouping within CARICOM.

The CARICOM Single Market Economy treaty finally went into effect on 1 January 2006 with Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago as the first full members. On 3 July 2006 the total membership was brought up to twelve when Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines became full members. The British overseas territory of Montserrat is seeking permission from the United Kingdom to become a part of the single market; Haiti will not join the market initially because of the difficult internal political situation; and the Bahamas will not join because of local opposition to a provision that allows skilled workers to move more easily among nations.

The CARICOM Common Passport

On January 7, 2005, the Republic of Suriname became the first full member state to officially launch the new bloc "CARICOM Passport". The new passports boast having better security and are also machine-readable. The full member states of the Caribbean Community had agreed to establish a common passport in order to make intra-regional and international travel easier for their citizens. The passports are also thought to save additional costs for member states by using a similar cover design, the designs will also follow newly updated international standards on Passport design.

The second state that released the national CARICOM passport was Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: SVG began issuing the new CARICOM passports around April 2005. On 25 October 2005, St. Kitts and Nevis became the third CARICOM member state to bring the CARICOM passport into operation, making good on its promise to launch it before the end of the year and began Issuance of the document to its citizens on 14 November 2005.

Antigua and Barbuda had announced that it would begin using the new CARICOM passport format by the middle of 2005. Currently (as of mid-2006) five Member States have introduced CARICOM passports. These states are Suriname, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbduda.

The CARICOM passport creates awareness that CARICOM nationals are nationals of the Community, as well as a specific country. The expectation is that all the member states will have introduced the CARICOM passport by 2008 when the stock of their old passports is depleted. Jamaica is expected to institute the passport by 2007, having recently upgraded its passport to a machine-readable state. The Co-operative Republic of Guyana had also announced that it would begin to use the new CARICOM passport format by the middle of 2005, but the introduction was delayed and the new target date is July 2006. Trinidad and Tobago had announced that it would begin to issue the new CARICOM passport in June 2006, but has now indicated that they will now introduce the passport in July 2006 along with Guyana.

CARICOM Visa and the Single Domestic Space

During the July 2006 CARICOM Summit, the various leaders reached an agreement on measures to ensure hassle-free movement for visitors to the 2007 Cricket World Cup, as well intelligence sharing and cooperation for the security of the event. People will be able to travel amongst the nine host countries and Dominica between January 15, 2007 and May 15, 2007 using a single CARICOM visa. The common CARICOM visa will be applicable to the nationals of 46 countries. The (CARICOM) visas will be issued from August 15, 2006 and are to be issued by three CARICOM states. For countries that have no Caribbean representatives, the CARICOM visa will be issued by the UK. During the 5 month period from January to May, the ten Caribbean countries will become a single domestic space in which travellers will only have their passport stamped and have to submit completed entry and departure forms at the first port and country of entry. The entry and departure forms will also be standardised for all ten countries. When continuing travel throughout the Single Domestic Space, persons (including those using the common visa) will not be required to have their documents processed to clear customs and immigration and will not have their passports stamped, but would still need to travel with them.

Future proposals

Future proposals of CARICOM are:

From around the year 2000, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states have placed a new focus and emphasis on establishing Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with local and international trading partners. This is particially done in collaboration with the Caribbean Regional Negociating Machinery (CRNM).

Preferential agreements:

Free Trade Agreements

Source - "Wikipedia"

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