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Stay with CARICOM, says UWI professor

Published:Monday | April 30, 2012 | 12:00 AM

VICE-CHANCELLOR of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Professor E. Nigel Harris believes that Jamaica or any island leaving the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) would not be in that nation's best interest.

"I think it is short-sighted, this idea that we can get in our little separate corners," he said. "The question of these little bits of things being viable by themselves I think is just not a tenable idea," he continued. Professor Harris was guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce directors, held recently. He was expounding on the initiatives to achieve a more robust relationship between the private sector and the regional university. He suggested that instead of looking to break away from CARICOM, greater collaboration between UWI and the private sector could be the way forward.

"In truth, I think we really do need to work with the private sector... to bring about the sort of linkages that drive our region forward," he said. When asked about the university's response to the breakaway sentiments, Professor Harris revealed that UWI was working to get the word out.

"I think the question is perhaps that we are not visible enough," he said. He revealed that UWI officials had created a group known as UWI Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow who tour the region, advocating for the institution.

"But one of their major features is that they are advocates for the CSME (Caribbean Single Market and Economy) and we send them out to high schools all over the region. They are powerful advocates, very knowledgeable and I always say young people are sometimes more persuasive than the grey hairs," he explained.

Professor Harris noted that the various linkages within the region, including that ability to move capital, talent and education, were key areas for collaboration.

"The strongest part of how CARICOM works is in terms of functional cooperation. In so many areas, there is a great bond across the Caribbean," he said.