Pros and cons of CARICOM
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The constant disrespect being meted out to Jamaicans when travelling to Trinidad is causing many to question the relevance of CARICOM to Jamaica. Despite valid concerns, some continue to argue that critics of CARICOM should stop whining. These intellectuals posit that critics should seek redress by taking their claims to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in its original jurisdiction. This is a logical suggestion because in its original jurisdiction, the Caribbean Court of Justice interprets and applies the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which is the agreement governing CARICOM. Therefore, by using this channel, Jamaican businessmen and citizens would be entitled to redress if it is proven that defendants breached the Treaty of Chaguaramas.
However, supporters of regional integration are wrong to promulgate that Jamaicans are unaware of the benefits of CARICOM. The reality is that Jamaica has been a devoted member of CARICOM, whereas other states have repeatedly breached the Treaty of Chaguaramas. For example, Trinidad has breached point-of-origin rules by allowing extra-regional products to claim CARICOM origin status, thereby, making these products cheaper in other CARICOM markets. Trinidad also provided its major airline, Caribbean Airlines Limited, with a fuel subsidy until this policy was scrapped in 2013.
In contrast, Jamaican law has also been amended to allow a wider variety of skilled CARICOM nationals to work in Jamaica without a work permit.
Most CARICOM states have not been so progressive. Further, we cannot forget that Jamaica contributed US$27 million to the CCJ's trust fund. Jamaica gives much to CARICOM and gets too little. This is why regionalism is not popular, not because Jamaicans are small-minded, as some would want us to believe. Additionally, proponents of regional integration like to argue that the economy would be less productive if Jamaica left CARICOM as if this were an empirical fact.
Therefore, leaders in the public and private sectors need to conduct studies to outline the pros and cons of Jamaica exiting CARICOM.