Caribbean integration and co-operation are the focus of leading policy-makers, academics and government officials at a conference at the University of the West Indies Mona campus in Jamaica.
The event, which takes place from 15-18 February is jointly organised by the University of the West Indies and the Commonwealth Secretariat. It will focus on the challenges and opportunities of the Caribbean integration movement. Topics include: regional co-operation in health, security and education; people-centered development, the changing international environment; governance; constitutional issues; and institutional development.
Commonwealth Deputy Secretary- General Ransford Smith, who will deliver an address at the opening of the conference says Caribbean countries have been working within a Common Market for almost 40 years – making the integration grouping in the region one of the most advanced among developing countries.
Despite this achievement, Mr Smith notes that if progress is to continue, the region has to grapple with the challenges stemming from globalisation, the emergence of new economic powers and the Economic Partnership Agreement with Europe.
“Countries with deeper economic integration and regional co-operation are better able to pull resources together in an efficient and focused way. They can foster a more favourable environment for investment and trade which contribute to a better quality of life for citizens,” says Mr Smith.
“We consider events like this one very important in helping the region come up with new thinking and in heightening political awareness to move Caribbean integration forward”, he adds.
He says other developing countries will also benefit from the valuable lessons and best practices of regional integration arrangements in the Caribbean.