Thu | Aug 16, 2018

Cabinet disagrees with elements of CARICOM report

Published:Wednesday | February 7, 2018 | 12:00 AM

The Cabinet is not in agreement with all elements of the Report of the Commission to Review Jamaica's Relations within the CARICOM and CARIFORUM Frameworks, which was tabled by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in the Lower House yesterday.

According to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, the Cabinet had "robust

and substantive" discussions regarding the report. "I think it's important that we note that the Cabinet has not accepted all the recommendations of the report. We welcome it, we have noted and we have taken certain positions in relation to recommendations," said Johnson Smith.

The review, which was presented to Holness in March 2017, points out, among other things, that Jamaica has recorded a sustained trade deficit with CARICOM over the last 20 years. However, the main issue relates to Jamaica's competitiveness and not its trade within the body.

There are 33 recommendations, which include the appointment of an ambassador to CARICOM, the establishment of a regional oversight body to review CARICOM's performance, and negotiating all future trade or economic agreements through CARIFORUM.

"I wish to underscore that the review was not intended to seek an exit from CARICOM and from various regional arrangements, such as the CSME (CARICOM Single Market and Economy), but to undertake a full review of the structure, procedures and practices that have not worked effectively in the national and regional interest," noted Holness.

For Peter Phillips, leader of the Opposition, the review is a matter of broad public interest, and he highlighted the delay in its tabling. Phillips added: "It took longer to be considered by the Government almost than it was to be prepared by the commission that was established."

Johnson Smith explained the report is expected to be debated before Andrew Holness assumes chairmanship of CARICOM in August, in a push to arrive at a Jamaican position on more "complex" issues.