The Ministry of Employment, Trade, Industry and Diaspora Affairs in collaboration with Hubs and Spokes of the OECS Secretariat, hosted a one day Workshop on the “Free Circulation of Goods in the OECS Economic Union” on Friday at the Fort Young Hotel.
The workshop was aimed at discussion key aspects of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre which has sought to establish greater integration between the member states of the OECS including the free movement of citizens and the economic union.
Programme advisor and representative for the Director General of the OECS Lisa Louis-Phillip addressed the methods by which this integration is meant to achieve.
“The revised treaty provides the foundation for closer cooperation on certain governance related matters and deepening economic integration. This deeper level of integration is expressedly geared to complement integration efforts already existing or taking place at the CARICOM level. The treaty, establishing the OECS economic union entered into force on Jan 21, 2011, seeking to establish closer economic relations among member states that will facilitate the creation of a single financial and economic space, harmonious development of economic activities through inter-sectoral linkages and international competitiveness,” she said.
Dominica’s Ambassador to the OECS, Charles Maynard said that while challenges will present themselves in the implementation of this integration, the public must be made aware as to the benefits with a view to giving them an opportunity to accept the treaty and reshape its outlook.
Maynard said, “The is perhaps one of the most significant steps that will ever be taken into the integration movement in the region because what we are saying is that we are seeing ourselves as a single financial and economic space. I know that there are some challenges even though the heads have determined that there should be free movement, but there are some instruments that still have to be put in place. Part of the problem that we will have is not just the various prescriptions that we will put in place, whether it’s the free circulation of goods or the free movement of citizens, it is our mindset.”
He continued, “Because we still see each other as being from somewhere else. But the treaty requires us to see ourselves as a single economic space. Additionally, work permit requirements have to be set aside and once you have presented the relevant documents for entry, work permits will no longer be required. So we can see a lot of challenges ahead, but people need to know what their rights are.”
The treaty document is available at the OECS unit in the Ministry of Trade.
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