Stating that outstanding issues such as free movement of people and a co-ordinated foreign policy have to be resolved before CARICOM can move to a Single Economy, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves also cited Trinidad for drawing the most from the integration movement in an uneven relationship.
Dr. Gonsalves, who has led the SVG for 17 years and signed on to the 2001 Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that established the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), said on Friday at a high-level stakeholders’ meeting at the Ramada Georgetown Princess Hotel, in Guyana, on the way forward for the CSME that he does not believe the region will move to a single economy unless the revised treaty is further amended to accommodate uneven development and less developed economies in the region.
Unemployment is a key determining factor to free movement, Gonsalves said questioning the region’s preparation to accommodate the unemployed while citing the Jamaican Shanique Myrie’s case of denial of entry to Barbados and the subsequent ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice in her favour.
Jamaica alone has about 200,000 unemployed people which, he said, is “twice the population of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, near three times the population of Dominica, four times the population of St. Kitts and Nevis, and 70 percent of the population of Barbados.”
Over 13 percent of Haiti’s 11 million population is unemployed and when Haiti signs on to the CSME, he said, if there is going to be an influx of people from Jamaica and Haiti, “the domestic populations are not going to allow that. Let us be honest about that.”
From the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States’ (OECS) standpoint, Gonsalves said, “the principal beneficiary of CARICOM’s trade and single market is Trinidad and Tobago.”