Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. A.J. Nicholson, says there would be far reaching implications if Jamaica withdrew or suspended its membership from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
The Minister was responding to comments made in the media by the Opposition that Jamaica should temporarily suspend its membership in CARICOM.
In a statement to the Senate on July 31, at Gordon House, Senator Nicholson explained that currently the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas contains no specific provisions for withdrawals or suspensions.
“Were the government to contemplate such a course of action, it would be necessary to examine the relevant provisions in the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties so as to derive an interpretation from those provisions in relation to withdrawing or suspending our membership in CARICOM under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas,” the Minister said.
He added that the Opposition has not made it clear whether the suspension or withdrawal would be from CARICOM as a whole or more specifically the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
“An attempt to suspend membership in the CSME alone for which provisions are unclear, could have serious implications for the viability of the CARICOM enterprise, thereby compromising all the other benefits that regional integration offers, such as functional co-operation, foreign policy co-ordination and participation in the five pillars of the CSME regime, namely movement of labour, capital, services, goods and right of establishment,” Senator Nicholson said.
He pointed out that while there could be the view that Jamaica should pull out of the CSME and only continue with other aspects of CARICOM, “we would need to consider that such a delinking exercise would affect how we operate within CARICOM and put at risk any benefits that we receive.”
“In event of a withdrawal from the CSME, Jamaica would in effect be preventing its nationals and companies from utilizing the provisions under the CSME for free movement of skilled persons, capital, services and right of establishment,” the Foreign Affairs Minister said.
He added that this would mean that those Jamaican nationals who have successfully moved to other CARICOM countries under the skills regime, would be required to amend their status in those countries as Jamaica would no longer be participating in that regime.
Senator Nicholson also noted that a withdrawal or suspension would have significant implications in the education sector, adding that Jamaica participates in the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) and is host to the western regional headquarters for the CXC.
He argued that CARICOM allows Jamaica a stronger voice in promoting international issues of common interest to the region, including food security, trade negotiations, special considerations for small economies, advocacy on human rights, workers rights, and gender issues.
“CARICOM strengthens our negotiating capacity as a bloc and significant gains have been made by the region, both at the bilateral and regional levels, as well as in the multilateral arenas from a coordinated and unified approach,” Senator Nicholson said.
He also informed that a Private Sector Working Group on CARICOM and other free trade agreements have been established to work closely with the Government on these important national issues.