Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Impose presence on CARICOM, Jamaica

Published:Friday | January 26, 2018 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Why is it that I can never hear or see a coherent vision from our business leaders and politicians on CARICOM? It doesn't seem like there is anything within CARICOM to do anything useful. Nobody seem to know where they want CARICOM to go. It then makes me question yet again the usefulness of this whole enterprise.

Since nobody is willing to say what we all know by now, and that is CARICOM is a big failure on every conceivable metric, and get out, a direction must be put forward for the bloc. In the EU, you can readily identify two countries that leads it: Germany and France. Which country or countries are the leading ones in CARICOM? They aren't any in the real sense.

Jamaica is the largest economy in CARICOM, it contributes a lot of money to keep it going. Why is it we are not the leading country in it? Why are we not driving the bloc agenda to our advantage? We allow other countries to set the agenda, abuse our citizens, flood our markets, put our farmers at a disadvantage, deprive our manufacturers, put up artificial barriers to our product entering there markets, and straight out indulge in protectionist behaviour. And we the tax payers of this country going to continue to foot the bill for CARICOM to work? We are getting a 12 for a 5! It can't continue!

Jamaica needs to assert itself. I am a child of the 80s so I am not wedded to this idea of regionalism, as some are. But if we can't get out of it, well, it should work to our advantage.

The prime minister commissioned a report on CARICOM. Since then, we haven't heard anything about it. It should be made public.

Jamaica must assert itself and take charge of CARICOM and set the direction that it should go in. Germany and France are doing just that in Europe. ASEAN is, too, with Vietnam and Thailand leading up front.

If CARICOM hopes to compete as a bloc in this ever-changing world, it needs to reform itself. And that takes leadership. Jamaica needs to fill the gap.

Jamaica needs to shape CARICOM in its own image and after its own likeness.

TYRONE T. THOMPSON