OECS leaders sign new economic treaty

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Monday June 21 – Eastern Caribbean leaders have signed the treaty that establishes their countries as a single economic and financial space.

The signing of the new Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Economic Union treaty by the Prime Ministers of Antigua and Barbuda – Baldwin Spencer, Dominica – Roosvelt Skerrit, Grenada – Tillman Thomas, St. Kitts and Nevis – Denzil Douglas, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines – Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, on the 29th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Basseterre which created the sub-regional grouping.

The leaders signed on the dotted line last Friday night, some of them just hours after reaching St. Lucia. They had expected to be in the island earlier for the 51st meeting of the OECS Authority, but were delayed as a result of sickout action which LIAT pilots staged last Wednesday and Thursday.

Of the other members of the nine-member OECS, the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat – the only other full member – is expected to sign shortly, after receiving permission from the UK government; while associate members Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands will not be part.

The signing of the treaty paves the way for the free movement of people, goods, services and capital among participating countries.

OECS member countries already cooperate in several areas including the common use of the Eastern Caribbean currency, joint regulation of banking and securities, and joint procurement of medicine.

The new treaty, however, promises “joint actions” and “joint policies” by member-countries in areas such as the judiciary and the administration of justice; external relations including overseas representation; international trade agreements; international marketing of goods and services; education including tertiary education; telecommunications; intellectual property rights; external transportation and communications; and public administration and management.