Explanation Of The Barriers To Implementing CSME

logo.jpgOn the 5 February 2008 BU published the article Barriers To Implementing Caribbean Single Market & Economy (CSME) which was submitted by a BU commenter under the moniker of Analyst. We have had some good discussion which prompted the following response by another commenter by the name of Andrea Symmonds. The commenter using simple language sought to explain why some countries would have more easily adopted CSME as a realizable concept. Of course having heard the explanation we remain confused as to the realistic implementation of CSME any day coming soon.

The revised treaty of chaguaramas which is basically the rather long-winded document that sets up the various provisions of the CSME, really commits the member states to doing a number of things at the same time. In my judgement therein lies the deficiency but at the same time it really could not be avoided. What has happened is that some member states because of human resource constraints could not move at the pace of others. So what was created was the impression that some of us were more committed than others. For instance a team of lawyers (I hope I am not boring anyone but there really is no interesting or sexy way to go about this) would have gone through the region and examined all of the legislation relating to business operation – what they were looking for was restrictions on the basis of nationality – so if you wanted to open a hairdressing salon and the legislation said that only nationals could open such a business then that law was deemed restrictive – you get the point – what they then came up with was a country by country list of all the restrictions – legal and administrative – Member States were then required to remove all those restrictions – To be fair because Barbados has since the 1950s and 1960s pursued an investment oriented path to development we never had those restrictions, except in relation to work permits required for persons coming to open a business etc. So there wasn’t a lot that Barbados had to do (nor T&T, or Suriname, or Guyana or Jamaica or Belize – that is just from my memory) in order to be compliant. The countries of the OECS however had major changes to make and no legislative drafters. Much of the delay on their part was then due to the CARICOM Secretariat finding the necessary technical assistance to get draft legislation crafted. The various programmes were completed by December 2006.

The OECS was critical for Barbados since we in fact export a substantial measure of services to this region as well as goods – when I was the focal point I was aware of a number of established businesses that were plying their trade in the OECS and they welcomed the changes that made their operations there a lot easier and more profitable. Equally, I would receive a number of enquiries from small businesses and emerging businesses about the new arrangements – they ranged from customs brokers to mechanics.

I would also say that I am realistic, the CSME is not going to mean something to everybody and there are some people who will be disadvantaged – we need to find a way to address their concerns and provide alternatives – as is the case with every policy that a government pursues.

there are a number of things happening – we are currently developing harmonised regulations for service providers in the region – the national coalitions of service providers are a direct product of the CSME arrangements – within agriculture we are developing common standards for agricultural health and food safety – we are also developing a harmonised approach to standards for products sold in the region,this is all ongoing work

the region is also working on a travel card which is in the advanced stages of design and is based on the technology and security systems that were deployed during world cup – the cards will be available to all persons who are willing to submit themselves to a thorough screening by the regional security system – so it will be good for business travellers.

I hope this helped – I don’t have all the answers but what ever information I can share I would be happy to do so.

the major problem with CSME is that in every member state it has become a much politicised exercise and there needs to be a mature bipartisan approach, working with CARICAD at the regional level I feel that I have been able to convey this to the powers that be – here in Barbados that might be difficult given my own affiliation – but there is nothing wrong with using forums like this to get unbiased information across – in my view the CSME is not perfect and it is not something that can be sold it is a work in progress and we are in fact learning as we go along. What is needed is constructive criticism that seeks to offer solutions.


We know Bush tea’s position but where is the alternative to CSME those of you who are doubting Thomases?

32 thoughts on “Explanation Of The Barriers To Implementing CSME

  1. While I am positive I will never understand the need for CSME, I am glad that persons like the BU household and this writer Andrea will take the time to explain some aspects of its implementation, constraints, benefits and whatever else.

  2. David, the alternative to CSME is obvious…DROP IT!!

    Have you noticed -like I have for years now, that Andrea have not been able to provide any clear benefits to be derived even if we were able to successfully implement this thing?

    The reason is that there is none.

    There is no size benefit in amalgamation of the 15 small states because the sum total is still insignificant on the world and even the regional stage.

    The administration would not be more efficient. On the contrary, it is obvious that decision making, leadership, management – EVERYTHING would be more complex, costly and time consuming

    Whereas we now have 15 votes on the world stage, we would run the risk of being reduced to a single vote for the successful union.

    I would not even mention the different cultures, history of mistrust etc. among the 15 states.

    One possible benefit could be political union (One prime Minister, One President etc )- this could save many salaries, property costs, expenses etc – This is likely to happen just after hell freezes over….


    Have you had a thought about what ‘success’ looks like in the 21st century

    Ophra Wimphry
    Apple Computer
    Fed Ex

    You get my drift? Small, Smart, Creative, flexible, Productive, Customer-focused.
    It takes vision and leadership to become smart, creative flexible etc…so it is much easier to form a union of the blind…

    The days of “Strength in numbers” went out with the assault on Normandy. Why do you think that the mighty US army was defeated in Vietnam and now again in Iraq?

    …small, flexible, creative will always win in this age.

    So why has Owen and his band spent millions to pursued this hopeless dream?
    Why have they messed up our Laws and changed the culture that made Barbados special??
    Probably a case of the blind leading the blind… or maybe of hidden agendas…

    Why does Civil Servants support it? …because the politicians said so…

    Why is Andrea sold on CSME….. because her paycheck depends on it…

    Why am I against it?
    …Bush tea just hate ‘ugly’.

  3. In my myoptic view I think we have to decide whether or not we wish to have ‘Caribbean integration.’

    If no, then we need not do anything differently.

    If ‘yes’ then there has to be freedom of movement – in every area.

    Regarding freedom of movement of people, this can be facilitated by a quota system… along the lines of the US model.

    i.e. – we’re going to allow ‘in’ X number of people from country Y. You submit an application, etc. etc.

    All it takes is some basic common sense. I can understand how simple procedures can be frustrated in today’s bureaucratic Government system.

    But there it is.

  4. All well and good to decide to keep the status quo for all you anti-integrationists people but how do we respond to the external forces which disapprove of dealing with little, piny islands?

    How do we deal with the international financial institutions who are sure to mandate the way we need to do business? They can do this quite easily by graduating many of our islands based on the flimsiest of criteria.

    Maybe we can turn to the S.Americans? Maybe Chevez? Come on lets hear some discussion about managing poor and open economies in a world free market? It is easy to poke holes but…

    Staying with CSME
    Published on: 2/8/08 – nation newspaper

    IT’S A NEW GOVERNMENT, but Barbados’ commitment to the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) has not changed.

    Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and International Business, Christopher Sinckler,
    made this clear when he addressed the opening session of the 21st meeting of the CARICOM Council of Ministers at Accra Beach Hotel yesterday.

    “Barbados remains committed to completing all obligations under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and giving effect to both the spirit and intent of the CSME,” he told the gathering of regional foreign ministers.

    Sinckler said Government was “committed to full and productive engagement” with CARICOM partners as they continued “this dynamic regional integration project”.

    He took the position that while the region had made “admirable strides” under CARICOM, “there is still a long and difficult road ahead” and Caribbean countries “must be prepared to stay the course”.

    He called for Caribbean countries to work hard, and with care, “towards the full development of the functional cooperation mandate” in the region.


    He underscored the importance of cooperation with the non-governmental organisations, saying: “The imperatives of regional integration mandate that governments, the private sector, regional inter-governmental organisations and the NGO community press ahead with strategic partnerships in furtherance of the integration movement.”

    Sinckler also spoke about the need for a follow-up to the Conference on the Caribbean, which involved the United States.

    “The Government of Barbados is particularly anxious to see the potential of this initiative fully realised,” he noted.

    “As the election machinery in the United States gathers momentum towards the November election, we must prepare for strategic engagement of the new administration.”

    The council is CARICOM’s second-highest decision-making body, the highest being the Conference of Heads of Government.

    The agenda for the two-day Barbados meeting includes the rising cost of living, and expanding the categories of skilled Community nationals eligible for “free movement”.

    Reflected concern

    Also listed for debate are: implementation of the Declaration of Port-of-Spain aimed at stopping the “epidemic of non-communicable diseases”; and the Economic Partnership Agreement between CARIFORUM nations and the European Union.

    CARICOM Secretary-General Edwin Carrington told the gathering that the agenda reflected a concern with making the Community relevant to the lives of its citizens.

    “All these issues require of the Community decision-makers the most profound consideration in determining the best course of action in the interest of improving the quality of life of our citizens,” he commented.

    Chairing the meeting is Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of The Bahamas, Brent Symonette. (TY)

  5. It look as though the CSME has it was conceptualised prior to the change of Government will be the focal point in this administration. It seems that it electioneering is a different ball-game to being in the driver’s seat. Remember the ‘thin line’ separating the two parties. Maybe I can start the CEES – Critique Labour Party, since we have the BEES and DEES and the missing link was the CEES.

  6. Many of us are already experiencing regional integration and seeing the benefits of it. Several pan-Caribbean organizations and businesses have offices in Barbados and as a result we are seeing more and more Trinidadians, Jamaicans and other Caribbean nationals working and living in Barbados. Take BNB and FirstCaribbean for example. I may be wrong, but I do not get the sense that their Barbadian colleagues view this as a negative. I think that business people, professionals and academics in the region have long bought into regional integration and are embracing it willingly.

    Many Barbadians travel frequently to other islands for sports, business, carnivals, etc and have developed lasting friendships with individuals in those islands. My own view of this is that we have a lot more in common, and there is a lot more that brings us together, than keeps us apart. And you had better believe that our young people in the region will not have the same hang ups as the older folk – they will no doubt wonder what all the fuss was about.

    On the other hand, clearly there are vast numbers of Caribbean people who appear to have mainly negative interactions with nationals of other states, or very little interaction. We need to work out how we can convince these groups of the benefits of regional integration.

    Full regional integration may be 25, 50 years away – who knows? In fact it is not necessary to assume that we will ever reach that goal. However the process to get there MUST take many years. So these are early days yet and it is not surprising that some people have to be dragged kicking and screaming along. We have all that time to try and work out the issues but we must be sure that legitimate concerns are dealt with properly. As Andrea said we need “constructive criticism that seeks to offer solutions.”

  7. Brutus

    What has regional Integration to do with CSME? There has been regional integration for decades. Countless Caribbean people have moved to and fro in the region and even beyond without any talk of CSME.
    With the ease of travel this will happen independent of what any politician does or says. Nobody has any problem with this.
    If a Guyanese or Dominican national comes to Barbados and decides that they prefer to live here – so what? That has gone on for ever – and don’t talk about Bajans going abroad.

    Now let’s talk about CSME.

    What this seeks to do is to effectively done away with an independent Barbados, Trinidad, Guyana etc and replace the 15 states with a “common community” where everyone will have equal rights etc….. so far so good.

    The politicians will not be giving up their little kingdoms (no talk of political unity)

    The various central banks want to maintain their independence (no common currency)

    Each country wants to retain its legal systems (how many in the Caribbean Court?)

    Despite the obvious obstacles, Barbados has gone ahead and changed up our laws, invested millions in systems, Cari-Court and liberated control of our borders.

    ..as a Bajan – does that make tactical sense to you?

    meanwhile – the possible benefits to be derived from the investment EVEN IF IT WERE TO SUCCEED are nebulous at best.

    It tells me a lot about us that we seem to always have to look to someone ‘out there’ to look after our interest.

    If it isn’t the politician, it is a priest, a lawyer the USA, England or some rich employer. How about buckling down and looking after our own future as best we can? How about standing on our own two feet?

    we need laws to tell us how to build our houses?
    we need to ‘join up with others’ in order to survive?
    we need laws to make us wear seatbelts?….

    are we all idiots?!?

    …but maybe something is wrong with me for asking…

  8. What is CSME about? Is it about a single government, a single currency and a single court? Policies that people love to debate, but are as difficult to deliver as they are controversial. No.

    At the heart of CSME, is the Caribbean Single Market and Economy. Not the Caribbean single country. You can have a single market without a single court. A single currency would help, but you could have a single market without adopting a new common currency, given that we currently all share currencies with a close relationship with the US dollar. (The Trinidad, Jamaican and Guyanese dollars float in a managed range versus the US dollar.)

    What you need for a single market and economy is freedom of movement of goods, investment flows, and labour (in that order or priority). CSME is enshrining these freedoms and make them more consistent, but they have already delivered a lower unemployment rate in Barbados than we would have otherwise (if we did not have capital inflows from Trinidad and elsewhere, domestic spending be lower and economic growth slower).

    There are those who believe that these freedoms bring risks. And they do. Risks that need to be mitigated with good policy. But the risks are smaller than if we said we dont need CSME and can move to free trade with everyone. Is there an alternative where we do not have to have these freedoms at all? Yes, but the overwhelming evidence is that higher barriers to trade and investment flows means higher prices and higher unemployment. Who wants that?

  9. TG is that the point which Bush tea is making. I got the meaning that he thinks whether we come together or not we are so small as a region that the explanation often given of strength in numbers in the world market becomes mute.

  10. Dear David,

    You are right. The strength in numbers argument is the way politicians like to justify regional integration efforts. From an economics perspective it is not important.

    The majority of economists believe that the benefits of removing trade, investment and labour barriers are greater than the costs. Consequently they would say that we should go for removing barriers against everyone and don’t worry about CSME. I used to think CSME was a distraction from the real task.

    However, you can imagine the howls of complaints from our producers if you did this. They have been pampered and protected for so long that faced with international competition a large part of our industry would go out of business. Government revenues would also be hit and the burden of taxation would have to be shifted from duties to income or (my preference) land taxes. Consumers would benefit from lower prices and net the economy would be better off, but the losses by some would be heavy.

    Those who complain about CSME do not tend to do so on the basis that it leads to an only slow and partial reduction in trade barriers. They tend to want no reduction in barriers. Ironically, it is these people that CSME panders towards because it gives them gradualism and breathing room from a more complete reduction in barriers in the future.

    We have three choices. First, cold turkey reduction in barriers against everyone. This will prove painful for some. Second, no reduction in barriers. Given our small size this would spell a high cost, low wage, low growth economy. Or CSME. CSME is not a destination in itself, but a path to achieving the more complete removal of barriers that buys our producers, government and workers time and some pressure to get ready.

  11. TG we are struggling with your positions somewhat. You say that our companies

    “have been pampered and protected for so long that faced with international competition a large part of our industry would go out of business.”

    Do you forget that some of the strongest countries in the world subsidize many of their leading industries? France and the UK come to mind. We can also use an example close to home like Trinidad which heavily subsidizes its dairy industry. We are sure that if you are in the international finance arena you can provide other examples.

    The big question therefore is how is the CSME participants expected to strip away bare all support mechanisms when they are expected to compete against developed countries who continue to maintain subsidies. TG as Brutus alluded this is a complex process and we are not sure our politicians have given it the attention which it deserves.

  12. Dear David,

    You want fair trade. But it is not on offer and No trade is not an alternative.

    The international trade system is uneven and tilted against developing countries. However, that is the way it is and one tiny country, or 15 tiny countries or 100 tiny countries will not change that.

    We cannot change the world trading system, but we can look at the game being played and what serves us best. The experience of many countris is that lowering our trade barriers whether others do so or not is better for us by bringing lower prices and more competitive industry.

    Incidentally, the greatest protection left today is in agriculture as the protectionists (at home as well as abroad) argue for food security. There is very little protection in general for manufactures and services – it is how China and India grow at 10% p.a. with growth fueled by manufacture and service exports respectively.

    As I have mentioned before, there are in fact some advantages for a small state. The amount of business we can bring to us through competitive taxes and regulation exceeds the amount of business we can lose. That is not the case for a large country and it is one basis for the economic success of Bermuda, Hong Kong and Singapore.

    Our only option is to use what exists and not wish for an alternative that does not.

  13. Mr Gresham,
    I am beginning to become an admirer of yours… specifically of your ability to state impressive facts without addressing any real issues – something like frankology – but more academic.

    ….but you see Bush tea? raw, boiling hot and straight to the point….

    Point 1.
    Trade barriers are NOT being removed by politicians and trade pacts. Barriers are being eroded by TECHNOLOGY. (Engineers and other practical scientists.)
    It matters not if there is a CSME or FTA, -a creative, imaginative and resourceful manufacturer in Barbados or ANYWHERE can sell his produce practically anywhere else on this planet if it is highly desired.
    Anything I want – I can find through Google andI can pay with visa.

    WHAT FREE TRADE WHAT?!? that has been here for years now.

    point no 2
    This presents a major challenge to all idiots who continue to operate in their sphere of mediocrity- lacking creativity, highly inefficient, depending on customers who buy because they have no other choice.

    point no 3
    Obviously these idiots who continue to miss the whole point have to find some excuse for their continued failure and they also have to be seen to be ‘taking steps to deal with the problem’.

    What do they do? run around trying to force customers to continue to buy their lousy stuff (building trade blocks, rearranging barriers, joining with other idiots etc – Classic CSME stuff)

    If you want to you can join in trying to rationalize the behaviors of these idiots. I just call a spade a spade…

    What SHOULD be done?

    Intelligent persons will look for ways where THEY can be at the cutting edge; offer the bast possible service and products that customers WANT and SEEK AFTER.
    We have to be efficient – to do it better that anyone else ANYWHERE….this means being creative, industrious, efficient and innovative.
    …unfortunately, these are ‘bad words’ to most of us….and the consequence for those of us who cannot keep up will be unpleasant.

    That is the reality of 21st century life.

    Nationally – the choices are identical.
    Either we develop high quality leadership, national competitiveness, niche areas where we are the VERY BEST and efficient and productive systems… OR the country will go the well trodden path of those many who have already fallen prey…

    …may be unpleasant, but these are the actual raw facts…

  14. Dear Bush Tea,

    You are right about the increasing reality of the world. I fear the average Barbadian wants to shut that out. It is this which is experienced in many developed countries which have reduced their barriers.

    However, we in Barbados and the Caribbean are trying our best to resist that.

    I assume you live in Barbados, in which case you will know that you cannot do what you say you can do. I assume you are not like Bimbro and Hinds who preach to Barbadians to maintain some nostalgic vision from the safety of abroad.

    I cannot, for example, buy Mr. Tata’s new $1,000 car and import it into Barbados for $1,000 as a result of duties and a range of other restrictions on car imports. This reduces the spending power of my Barbados dollars.

    I believe that you could solve our cost of living problem overnight if people could in fact buy things on e-bay and get them shipped to their front door, but three things stop Barbadians doing this on a regular basis – except for books and computers that are duty free (do you live here?)

    First, exchange control limits on credit cards. Second, high duties and Third, customs. Due to customs goods have to be shipped into port and it takes weeks for someone to give you a discretionary estimate of duties to be paid and you have to hand around for days waiting due to the highly inefficient labour practices at the port. (If only we all had the kind of jobs they have at the port, we would have more time to hand around at the port.)

    I cannot shop around for the cheapest but good accountant, lawyer, doctor, plumber, electrician, decorator or other professional in the world, because he/she cannot easily get permission to work here as a result of lengthy immigration processes. It will take my wife 2 years to receive her Caricom pass to work here as a graduate, something that would have deterred her if she wasn’t here with her Barbadian family.

    Try bringing in cheap foodstuffs or generic pharmaceutical drugs into Barbados and a host of “safety” restrictions will stop you. Clearly we do need some safety standards but not ones that deny us global access.

    So, while technology is fueling trade and growth around the world where barriers have been removed, we have been far more hesitant and have missed out as a result.

    Removing these barriers will be easier said than done. The government raises B$400m per year from duties (so the idea that technology has allowed people to bypass this is, er, false) and this income will have to be replaced somehow by shifting the burden of taxation elsewhere, which will be politically tough. Politicians far prefer semi-disguised taxes like duties to transparent ones like income tax or land tax.

    In London youngsters would regularly trade on e-bay, make bite size downloads on I-Tunes and shop around on the internet, substantially raising their spending power. In Barbados there are a host of barriers that deny our people the technological advances you speak of. Do you live here?

  15. Mr Gresham,

    …to be honest, I try not to argue with people like you who know a lot more than me, however somehow I feel inclined to make an exception in this case…

    I am not sure why you ask, but…I live in Barbados – have for over half a century. I do so because, although I travel extensively, I have yet to find someplace that I personally prefer.

    Just hearing you mourning about ‘taxes and duties’ and the massive ‘limitations’ that you face in Barbados tell me a lot…

    You want to order a tax free $1000 car from India? If you were really thinking you would realize that the fact that that car will cost you at least $6000 is NOT ANY DISADVANTAGE to you. Do you know what your equivalent job in India or China pays?
    India and China can grow at 10% because of where they are coming from…

    It is that high duty that subsidizes your standard of living. If that is removed so that you can get your $1000 car- from simple macro-economics you can see that you could not afford the car after a short while.. countries with low taxes tend to be low quality…

    …so whereas you are here sitting on a clear advantage, you are complaining and looking for freeness…
    Have you ever visited Japan or Switzerland?

    By having high taxes and duties, which many visitors come here and willingly (or foolishly) pay, Barbados generates its livelihood. If you really understood the economics you would want to RAISE taxes (and generate even more income from our visitors provided we could maintain a high enough level of services to attract them).

    in other words, If Bajans were willing to work hard, provide high quality services, we could CHARGE more taxes, high prices etc – but we would also be working for more and everyone (who is productive) benefits….

    …of course lazy non-producers will only complain about high prices and taxes…

    If you cannot find creative and honest ways to buy the things that you want to buy I feel real sorry for you…. I have no such problem.
    …but then again I provide world class services and expertise that is highly desired anywhere…

  16. Governments must raise revenues to fund public tasks like education and health.

    But how should government collect revenues? To date we have relied heavily on duties on foreign goods. This is bad for a number of reasons.

    We are country with a high cost of living, low labour productivity and where the wealthy own land, which is scarce, and the poor do not. The implication of this is that we should not tax labour too much, through income taxes and national insurance contributions because this will further reduce the return on labour. We should not tax goods too much because this will raise the cost of living further. Taxes on foreign goods (duties) also allows domestic producers to be uncompetitive and high cost producers.

    What we should be taxing further is land. This would penalize most those who are hoarding land, and it would reduce the price of land (as land will have an increased liability). However, the landed classes are a powerful lobby, and so we have caps on land taxes and instead we have high duties on foreign goods, which not only raise the cost of living but condemn the economy to be uncompetitive. Getting those duties down and switiching to land taxes will bring significant economic benefits but will be politically unpopular. In Europe the most successful device to help countries go down similar sensible but politically difficult steps in tax and spend policies was the common market.

  17. Tax Land?…you obviously have absolutely NO idea what you are talking about. The book you seem to be reading sounds like a poor Masters project for UWI…

    …for a country that sells services -especially Tourism, the ability to have and maintain high prices is the very definition of success… it is like being Mercedes Benz in the auto world.
    High prices are justified by having a high quality, unique product. To the extent that we can provide a special unique experience for those tourist who can afford it, Barbados should charge as high duties on ‘foreign goods’ as can be justified.

    People like you who want ‘dirt cheap’ should relocate. (it is not logical to live at Sandy Lane and expect Swan Street prices). If we try your approach, then we will all end up living in a hell hole…… also Sandy Lane does not address problems by seeking to ‘join up’ with poor run down hotels…do they? – thus their success.

    If you don’t understand the EU then don’t bring it up. The Common Market is an arrangement between already successful, developed countries whose objective is principally to safeguard their European interest at the exclusion of ‘run down hotels’ like the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. Check and see what had to happen with Ireland before they were allowed to join….

    ….but I do not really expect you to follow this line of thinking…you just want your Tata…

  18. Dear Bush Tea,

    I am confident that the overwhelming majority of international economists are in favour of us (1) reducing the barrers to trade that stop ordinary Barbadians accessing global markets, (2) doing so with some gradualism, perhaps first with something like the CSME, and (3) shifting the burden of tax away from excise duties to other taxes, especially land taxes.

    I have not been content to simply cite other economists but to try and explain why they think that way as clearly as I can. For the sake of everyone else I will not repeat the earlier posts above. But all you do is spout random nonesense. You are drowning in too much bush tea and I see no value in continuing this discussion with you.

  19. Bush Tea, you said that anything you want you could find on Google and pay with visa. Thomas Gresham used an example to demonstrate to you that this is not totally true. You then went off on a long tirade.

    You said earlier that there has been regional integration for decades. If you have ever tried to do business in the various Caribbean countries you would realize that the biggest challenge is that there are different laws and regulations everywhere. Different tax rates and tax rules, different corporate registration requirements, different labour laws, different import duties, different licensing requirements, etc. Is this regional integration? CSME seeks to harmonize all these differences.

    You asked how many in the Caribbean Court – all of the CSME territories have signed on to the Caribbean Court with respect to its jurisdiction over regional business and trade matters (in fact as pointed out by Andrea Symmonds, with respect to all matters coming under the revised treaty).

    You said that “the various central banks want to maintain their independence (no common currency).” I think there are tougher issues than simply the common currency – and remember that some territories have fixed exchange rates and some have floating rates. This is a tough issue, economically and politically, that will take a long time to resolve.

  20. Thomas Gresham, I think that it has been a mistake on the part of the politicians to try to sell CSME on the basis that this was a necessary step towards preparing for FTAA. CSME can be sold on the strength of the internal benefits alone.

    Barbados in particular, is a very small market, and one avenue of growth is for local companies to have more freedom to expand regionally. The same is true for the other Caribbean territories, so I think the economic arguments for freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and labour within the region are easily made.

    FTAA introduces other issues where we are more likely to have philopshical differences. Again, because Barbados is such a small economy, I am uncertain about how much of what we love about Barbados would survive if we totally exposed our economy to the rest of the world. I don’t think that we really want to become the next Singapore, Bermuda or Hong Kong.

  21. Dear Brutus,

    Whether we end up with the FTAA or not, I think CSME is a step in the right direction, though I am sure it could be made better in various ways. I think we broadly agree on this. To my mind its a partial solution, but partial is better than none.

    As we have discussed, economic life is full of trade-offs. There are few positions where all improve their welfare and so we have to weigh up the costs and benefits of more competition and (my preferred route) whether we can use the benefits to mitigate the costs, rather than hold everyone back to protect the few (who are often the loudest and best organised).

    I used to be skeptic about trade and in the past danced with the fair trade and subsidy crowd, but I am a keen observer of economic developments around the world and I and almost all of my colleagues feel that the evidence is now overwhelming about the transformational impact on economic development of more openness.

    In the old days the Chinese and the Indians were the greatest skeptics about opening up their economies (India’s 4% growth was called the “hindu rate of growth” that preserved the old way of live). Since they openned up they have been growing at 10-12% p.a. and while inequality has increased significantly, there has also been the greatest single reduction in absolute poverty the world has ever seen in under 20 years – less than a lifetime. And with that growth has come a self-confidence that has also triggered a boom in their own cultural industries.

    If we use the benefits that accrue to invest in education, health, our way of life (peace and security) and culture, and aggressively attack inequality through tax transfers and education access we may find that we can all end up better off. And remember we cannot make proper investments in these things if we are stagnating.

    But given the importance you and I both place on our stability I do not mind phasing our liberalisation one step at a time and watching before we take another.

  22. Dear Brutus,

    By the way. Have you visited Singapore? If not I recommend you do. They have small island ways that will make you feel at home, their history and politics is grounded in past poverty and they have used their wealth to provide the world’s best free education and health infrastructure. It is far from clear that this was only possible with a suppression of democratic rights.

    More democratic small state successes are Bermuda, Estonia, Ireland, and Luxembourg. I think Luxembourg has many interesting parallels with Barbados – a previously poor region, squeezed between large economies, laden with an old, unproductive sector (steel) trying to reorient itself. And although the country is nor super wealthy and its culture was always borrowed from its larger neigbours its countryside and cuisine maintain some charm.

    I do not mean this in a bad way, but I feel if our people were to visit Singapore, Luxembourg, Dubai and others and sniff small state success, we may “fear” it less.

  23. Sorry to labour the point, but I often come across Caribbean politicians who say that we cannot be as successful as Singapore because our people would never put up with the loss of rights and the bossiness of Singapore’s government. No spitting the in streets!

    I have spent much time in Singapore – and I would argue that their success is not based on a suppression of rights and our characterisation of it as such as a kind of “growth-envy”.

    One illustration of that is the story Nick Lesson. Nick Lesson brought down Barings Bank with a $800m trading loss made from Singapore. He not only lost a lot of money illegally, he embarrassed Singapore and tried to run away when the police were after him. They tracked him down in Frankfurt, threw him in Singapore’s jail. Did he waste away in a dark hell? In jail he got cancer. And they cured him. Now tell me which prison you know in the Caribbean where they will diagnose you with cancer, treat you and cure you? But that reflects the standards at the Singapore Prison Hospital and a sense of rights for prisoners.

    Barbados is not Singapore, but there are many examples of small island success, each with differences from each other and us, but at the heart of each is an open, outward orientation that we can learn from and need to try more of.

  24. Thomas Gresham asks;

    Now tell me which prison you know in the Caribbean where they will diagnose you with cancer, treat you and cure you?

    Sorry to burst your bubble sir but it is also done here in Barbados.
    Even the American who brought in the guns and drugs in the yatcht was diagnosed and treated for cancer.The curing part is totally dependent on the type of cancer.
    Just check your facts first before spreading untruths ok.
    What do you think the prisoners who escaped from the QEH were doing there ?
    We are not as backward as you would have people believe.

  25. Dear Technician,

    I am more than happy to be corrected. I am a proud Barbadian.

    From what I hear of the old prison and what I know of QEH, and the Singapore Prison Hospital, I would have taken my chances at a Singapore Prison Hospital. But if you say I would fare just as well an Glendairy then I am pleased to hear it.

    My underlying point of course had little to do with Glendairy, it is that the rapid ecoomic development of Singapore through its outward orientation has meant that its public services can be of a very high standard and that benefits even those you would not expect to benefit (those denied their freedoms and in prison).

  26. One of the jobs I did as a doctor back home in Barbados, was to act as medical officer to HMSP Glendairy. It would surprise Thomas Gresham to know that the prisoners got good medical care.

    They have the right to see the doctor every week if they so desire, and make what ever complaint they have.

  27. I think that we have to bear in mind that the CSME is an evolutionary process. Perhaps with the immediate access to real time information we have come to expect that on some fixed date there will be a grand declaration that a CSME officially exists. There wont be one. As a matter of fact it is worth noting that the United States of America is not a single economy – though people refer to it as one – but if you think about it there are different taxes, different regulations pertaining to the operation of businesses and different prices of goods and services. What is important to remember is that our businesses cannot expand and employ more people if they are catering to the finite national market. Equally when we produce all these skilled persons it is unrealistic to expect that the 166 sq miles of Barbados can provide them with the outlet they need to be the most productive.

  28. Thomas Gresham, no I have not visited Singapore and it sounds like a place I would love to visit for a while, but I do not think I would want to live there. I may be very wrong but I am picturing high rise housing, masses of people everywhere, non-stop action.

    I am fearful of the day when Barbados becomes just one big city, but that is where we are headed. You may be right, Barbados as a whole may be better off, based on traditional economic and social indicators. And it would attract to its shores people who are looking for big city life.

    But I prefer Barbados to be the kind of place where people go to get away from all of that.

  29. Dear Brutus,

    I have much sympathy with what you say. We have much to be proud of and to hold on to here. There are many things the Singaporeans do that we should not. Singapore plans to have 5 million people, I would not want that for Barbados. But that is not a necessary condition for success.

    Luxembourg/Bermuda have not gone the route of big populations and high rise buildings, and they have been hugely successful.

    When I study the quite significant number of successful small states the keys to success are clear: outward orientation in trade and labour and one or two sectors that are globally world-class, and often one of them is financial services.

    CSME therefore is generally a good thing, and where it is not, it is because it allows us to hide behind protective barriers more than we probably ought to.

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