It's rare to find Caribbean bloggers across different islands talking about the same issue at the same time, but one would have thought that yesterday's historic signing in Jamaica of the document ratifying the Caribbean Single Market (CSM), might have created a little buzz. That, however, is exactly what it did — created a little buzz.
There was no word on yesterday's event, notably, from the pro-business TalkCSME.com blog (the CSME, the Caribbean Single Market & Economy, scheduled to be in place by 2008, is the final stage of the CSM process, and will involve a single currency and a common economic policy), which launched back in June 2005, stating very optimistically that:
The Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) involves the free flow of labour, goods and capital among participating Caribbean Community (CARICOM) members states. The emergence of this single market means that legal and administrative restrictions affecting trade, labour and technology within the CARICOM region will generally be a thing of the past.
That post, which attracted 27 comments, went on to say that:
one of the greatest advantages is that it will encourage intra-regional trade and allow CARICOM states to negotiate as a single entity. This will afford them a better opportunity to influence policies concerning global trade. Perhaps the region may soon be a force to reckon with in the next round of World Trade negotiations.
TalkCSME.com has posted only a few items since then, the last being an ackowledgement, on December 31, 2005, of the CSM's official coming into effect on January 1, 2006.
I could in fact find only three bloggers talking about yesterday's signing. Simone Champagnie, a Jamaican living in Florida, noted the event on her blog and linked to an article drawing parallels between the CSME and the failed West Indies Federation of the 1960s. Calling the CSM “the Caribbean version of the EU”, Jamaican blogger Leon wrote that:
While it seems beneficial in theory, I doubt it will be so in practice. I believe some countries will gain much greater benefits than others. . . . . Remember the great economic miracle that globalization was promised to be? . . . I think countries like Barbados and T&T will use the CSM to invade Jamaica's private sector. There are already a few Trinidadian firms here, most notably RBTT and the formerly Jamaican-owned Carib Cement. Most countries prefer to employ nationals over foreigners. The opposite is true in Jamaica, and the CSM will make already scarce jobs even more so. But in the words of the immortal Bob Marley, “Time will tell.”
And MediaCritic in Guyana accused Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo of being a “non-integrationist” for declining the invitation to attend the historic meeting, then running off to Cuba the next day:
Your visit to Cuba Sir, is a slap in the face of the entire regional integration effort. You have, in one swipe, spat on everything CARICOM, on all the efforts of those before to reach this Single Market.