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CARICOM - Protocol Consultation

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Contact: Richmond Felix

June 9, 1998 - The Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), was signed on July 4, 1973. The treaty is currently being revised in order to establish the CARICOM Single Market and Economy. This process of revision is being undertaken by a series of protocols which are due for completion before 1999.

Protocols one and two have already been completed. Protocol 1, restructures the organs and institutions of the community and re-defines their functional relationships. Protocol 2 addresses the right of establishment, the right to provide services and the right to move capital by any CARICOM national in the community. Upon entry into force of protocol 2, member states will be precluded from imposing restrictions in respect of the establishment of enterprises, free movement of capital and services.

The Government of St. Lucia is currently holding consultation to look at protocol 3, which deals with industrial policy and protocol 5, which concerns agricultural policy. "When you’re signing such profound regional agreements which will eventually be legislation, we believe that our nationals ought to know what is in that protocol," says Minister of Commerce Industry and Consumer Affairs, Hon. Dr. Walter Francois. He went on to say, "the only way you can make use of it or use it to your benefit is if you have knowledge of what’s in there."

So far, attendance to the consultations has been quite low and Dr. Francois expressed his disappointment, especially in light of the fact that the CARICOM secretariat had dispatched its key advisor on the Single Market and Sectoral Programs. "I think its a critical part of the process, in developing those protocols we went through a process of national consultations and there’s a task force which developed and refined those protocols." Caricom advisor Desiree Field-Ridley, tells the GIS.

The protocols are now at a stage where the Council for Trade Economic Development (COTED), had a look at them at its last meeting. The COTED meeting approved Protocols III, IV, and V which deal with policies on Industry, Trade Liberalization and External Trade, and Agriculture respectively.

At least three protocols are expected to be signed at the upcoming Heads of Government Conference in St. Lucia. It is for this reason that organizers say feedback is imperative. Nine protocols are being developed to complete the revision of the treaty.

Next week Thursday, consultation will be held on protocol 7 which concerns disadvantaged countries.


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