11 February 2011

Sint Maarten PM to CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting

Prime Minister Wescot invited to attend in view of recent autonomous political status for Sint Maarten 

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (GIS) – Honorable Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, has informed the Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Honorable Prime Minister of Grenada Tillman Thomas that she accepts the invitation extended to attend the next meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM.

Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica Honorable Roosevelt Skerrit, recommended to the CARICOM Chairman that an invitation should be extended to Sint Maarten since it has achieved an autonomous country position within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Hon. Prime Minister Wescot Williams says that she is looking forward to this meeting and having the opportunity to look at the prospects it offers in forging future relations across national and regional borders.

In 1972, Commonwealth Caribbean leaders at the Seventh Heads of Government Conference decided to transform the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) into a Common Market and establish the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), of which the Common Market would be an integral part. The signing of the Treaty establishing CARICOM, Chaguaramas, 4th July, 1973, was a defining moment in the history of the Commonwealth Caribbean.

The objectives of CARICOM are to improve standards of living and work; the full employment of labour and other factors of production; accelerated, coordinated and sustained economic development and convergence; expansion of trade and economic relations with third States; enhanced levels of international competiveness; organization for increased production and productivity; achievement of a greater measure of economic leverage and effectiveness of Member States in dealing with third States, groups of States and entities of any description and the enhanced co-ordination of Member States’ foreign and foreign economic policies and enhanced functional co-operation.

There are 15 countries that are members (Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Lucia, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago) of CARICOM and five are associate members (Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Turks & Caicos Islands).

Hon. Prime Minister Skerrit is expected to arrive on the island for official business Friday evening at 9.00pm at which time the Prime Minister will welcome him.

Editor's Note: Sint Maarten was part of the erstwhile Netherlands Antilles which enjoyed observer status in relevant CARICOM committees prior to changes in the CARICOM structure eliminating the committees in favour of ministerial councils.