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The Seventh Heads of Government Conference of Commonwealth Caribbean Countries has agreed that the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) will become a Common Market on 1st May, 1973, the fifth Anniversary of CARIFTA.

The Conference was described by delegates in closing speeches as the most important, historic and epoch-making to be held in the Commonwealth Caribbean.

The Conference agreed in principle to the formation of a Caribbean Community (embracing the Caribbean Common Market, foreign policy co-ordination and several areas of functional co-operation) and in furtherance of this goal has appointed a Committee of Attorneys-General of all Member Territories of CARIFTA and Bahamas to examine the legal implications of establishing the Community and prepare a Draft Treaty.

A third major advance in Caribbean economic integration was the adoption of a wide-ranging package of measures to promote the economic development of the Less Developed Countries of CARIFTA, particularly in relation to industrial development.

These are three of the many far reaching decisions taken by the Heads of Government Conference which met in a week-long session from Monday, 9th October to Saturday 14th October, 1972, at the Convention Centre, Chaguaramas, under the Chairmanship of Dr. the Rt. Hon. Eric Williams, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, the host country.

With the adoption of proposals for the Harmonisation of Fiscal Incentives, the introduction of a Common External Tariff and a Common Protective Policy for the Region, Measures for the Location of Industries in the Less Developed Countries of CARIFTA, the Rationalisation of Agriculture and for greater Financial and Monetary Co-operation, the Conference has taken decisive action to deepen the regional integration movement thereby converting the present Free Trade Area into a Caribbean Common Market.

The Conference issued two declarations:

(a) relating to the role of the English-speaking Caribbean countries in the Inter-American System; and

(b) the state of the relations of the four independent countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean with the Government of Cuba, and the obligations which the Organisation of American States sought to impose upon its members in regard to relations with the Cuban Government.

The four independent countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean will seek early establishment of relations with Cuba, and to this end will act together on the basis of agreed approaches.

The second declaration dealt with the exclusion of certain Commonwealth Caribbean Countries from the Inter-American System and the adverse effect of such exclusion on the economic and social development of these countries and their aspirations to economic independence.

In this regard the four independent Commonwealth Caribbean countries pledge themselves to adopt all necessary measures in order to bring this exclusion to an end.

The Position of the Less Developed Territories

The Heads of Government took a number of important decisions designed to improve the position of the less developed countries within the regional integration movement.

Among the measures adopted were a series of amendments to the CARIFTA Agreement aimed at strengthening the trading position of the less developed countries within CARIFTA and at accelerating their economic industrial development by enabling them to take greater advantage of their combined markets as a base for the establishment of industries.

In addition to these amendments, the Conference accepted certain proposals made in the Report of the Task Force on Industrial Location in the less developed countries which was set up by the Council of Ministers and their Tenth Meeting held in Dominica in July last. The proposals included the establishment of a Caribbean Multinational Investment Company, an Export Credit Insurance Scheme to be operated by the Caribbean Development Bank, the provision of technical assistance by the public and private sectors of the more developed countries of CARIFTA to the LDC’s and the use by the LDC’s of industrial and technical research facilities available in the more developed territories.

The Investment Company which has been conceived as a key instrument in the industrial strategy of the less developed countries is expected to be financed both by the public and private sectors in the Region. Contributions are to be made by the four more developed CARIFTA countries and it is hoped that the major foreign owned firms, banks and insurance companies operating in the region as well as private investors in the more developed and the less developed countries will contribute to its resources. The Company will participate in the equity of industrial ventures in the less developed countries. The CARIFTA Secretariat has been mandated by the Conference to take urgent steps towards the earliest possible establishment of the Company.

The Export Credit Insurance Scheme to be operated by the Caribbean Development Bank will play a crucial role in export promotion by providing the manufacturers and exporters of the LDC’s with export credit thus facilitating the development of their industrial exports.

University of the West Indies

The Conference adopted a Resolution dealing with several aspects of the future role, character and functions of the University of the West Indies.

It was agreed to retain the regional character of the University.

Recognising the importance of Tourism in the Region, Conference took a decision to initiate steps for the University to provide training in tourism and Hotel Management in its expansion programme in the present triennium. In the sitting of the new training facilities, it was felt that serious consideration should be given to a non-campus territory.

Immediate training programmes should be undertaken by the University to assist in the training of hotel personnel at various levels in existing hotel schools in the Region.

In order to determine the basis for the expansion of the University a Technical Committee consisting of representatives of the University of the West Indies and the University of Guyana was appointed to assess the requirements for training manpower at the professional, administrative, managerial and sub-professional levels in the Commonwealth Caribbean.

The report of this Committee should be completed before the beginning of the 1973/74 Academic Year for submission to Heads of Governments.

Subject to the approval of the University Council a programme of expansion in the priority areas of medicine, engineering (including Agricultural engineering), Tourism and Hotel Management, and Business Management was agreed upon. In addition Conference also resolved that efforts be made to accelerate the introduction of training programmes in the fields of Journalism and Mass Communications.

It was also agreed that the existing entry requirements should be maintained.

A new formula for contribution to the University was also approved by Conference.

With regard to the relationship between the University of the West Indies and the University of Guyana it was resolved that the two Universities should continue and intensify their programmes of co-operation particularly in the fields of scientific and technological research.

The Conference by resolution reaffirmed its confidence in the Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies and directed that its expression of confidence be conveyed to him.

Deepening of Regional Economic Integration

In furtherance of the objective of deepening the CARIFTA movement, the Heads of Government also adopted a resolution on the deepening of economic integration which called for the drawing up of a broad long-term regional perspective plan based on an identification of regional natural resources and on long-term projections of direct and indirect demand for agricultural, industrial and mineral products and tourism in the Region and paying special attention to the opportunities for development in the Less Developed Countries. The resolution also calls for continuing contact among National Planning Agencies, consultation in drawing up national plans and the immediate establishment of a Standing Committee of Officials in charge of National Planning Agencies.

Conference also agreed that steps should be taken to integrate production within the Region by creating linkages between such activities in the various Territories of the Region.

A Standing Committee of Ministers responsible for mining was established and proposals adopted for the exchange of information on natural resources with a view to the development of joint projects for fuller utilisation of the natural resources of the Region.

Widening of CARIFTA

Conference considered the question of the widening of CARIFTA and decided that the immediate priority was the improvement of the position of the Less Developed Territories within CARIFTA, Conference further agreed that an in-depth study should be undertaken of the possibilities of extending the integration movement to include all the Caribbean Islands and Suriname.

Relations with the European Economic Community

The Heads of Government reaffirmed previous decisions of the CARIFTA Council that CARIFTA Countries should seek as a group a single form of relationship with the European Economic Community. The Conference agreed on the content of the relations and defined a strategy for negotiations with the Community.

Foreign Policy

The Conference agreed that a Standing Committee of Ministers to deal with matters of common interest in Foreign Policy be established. All thirteen countries participating in the Heads of Government Conference will take part in the Committee.

It was also decided to refer the Action Programme for Economic Co-operation adopted by the Conference of Foreign Ministers of Non-Aligned Countries at Georgetown in August 1972 to the CARIFTA Council of Ministers with directions that the Council take account of it in the formulation of regional programmes of economic co-operation and of programmes for co-operation between Commonwealth Caribbean countries and other developing States.

In doing this, the Conference agreed that if a Commonwealth Caribbean Country is identified as one of the four regional states to be entrusted with responsibility for the implementation of the Programme the Commonwealth Caribbean Regional Secretariat be mandated to co-operate with the country so identified in the discharge of the functional aspects of that responsibility.

The Conference supported the proposal by the Prime Minister of Jamaica, made in the Twenty-Seventh Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on October 2, 1972, to the effect that Jamaica be host to a Conference in 1973 to consider the establishment by developing countries of a fund for joint investment in their own development.

Harmonisation of Fiscal Incentives

Agreement was reached on a Scheme for the Harmonisation of Fiscal Incentives to Industry with special facilities for the LDC’s with a view to its implementation by 1st May 1973, subject to the resolution of certain technical issues by the CARIFTA Council of Ministers at its next meeting later this year.

The Common External Tariff

The Heads of Government agreed on proposals for the implementation of a CARIFTA Common External Tariff by may 1, 1973, with special provisions for the ECCM Territories which have already introduced or are in the process of introducing a Common External Tariff among themselves.

Fiscal, Financial and Monetary Co-operation

On the question of Fiscal, Financial and Monetary Co-operation, the Conference took important decisions with respect to the negotiation of double taxation agreements. As a framework for the negotiations of such agreements between individual CARIFTA countries and developed metropolitan countries, Conference accepted the report of the Joint Consultative Committee on Double Taxation set up by the Sixth Heads of Government Conference in 1970. A Draft treaty on Intra-Regional Double Taxation (with tax-sparing provisions) was also adopted as a basis for negotiating such relationships between CARIFTA Countries.

The Conference agreed that steps should be taken to strengthen the provisions of the CARIFTA Agreement dealing with Fiscal, Monetary and Financial Co-operation and that there should be continuing consultations and the fullest possible exchange of information among Ministers of Finance, Central Banks and Monetary Authorities. In furtherance of this objective, Conference approved the establishment of a Standing Committee of Ministers of Finance of CARIFTA Countries and the Bahamas as a permanent institution of regional economic co-operation.

The view of the August 1972 Ministers of Finance Meeting that the Currency Boards of the Eastern Caribbean and Belize should be up-graded was endorsed by the Conference which also agreed that the Central Banks of the independent countries should provide technical assistance to these Authorities.

Conference also endorsed the recommendation of the 1972 Finance Ministers Meeting that a greater intra-regional flow of public, institutional and private funds particularly insofar as establishment of joint industrial ventures in the LDC’s was concerned should be encouraged.

The question of representation in international economic forums was considered and Conference agreed that CARIFTA Countries should co-ordinate their positions and presentations on those occasions and should in certain cases consult among themselves with a view to agreeing on a single spokesman for the countries concerned.


The subject of agricultural rationalisation which has been engaging the attention of the CARIFTA Council since 1968 was also considered by the Conference and a decision taken to put the programme on a firmer and a more comprehensive basis by the introduction of certain concrete measures as a matter of urgency. This programme is of great importance to the less developed territories which depend predominately on agriculture as a source of employment and foreign exchange. In this connection the Heads of Government endorsed a recommendation of the CARIFTA Council of Ministers for the establishment of a Standing Committee of Minister of Agriculture to give overall guidance to the agricultural rationalisation programme. Also endorsed was Council’s decision that there should be regular meetings of Agricultural Planners of the Region to co-ordinate national efforts in national development.

Movement of West Indian Nationals within the Region

Recognising that the promotion of travel of West Indians within the Commonwealth Caribbean Region will serve to foster increased understanding the Conference decided to entrust to a Committee of Ministers, the examination at an early date, of arrangements for facilitating the travel of citizens of Commonwealth Caribbean countries between such countries.

Civil Aviation

With respect to Civil Aviation matters, the Conference agreed that Commonwealth Caribbean Governments would:

1. establish immediately a Standing Committee to examine the air fare and rate proposals of airlines operating to and from Caribbean points and to make recommendations to the Governments concerned as to whether these proposals should or should not be approved;

2. seek joint Commonwealth Caribbean representation on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Law of the Sea

The Conference adopted a resolution on the question of the Law of the Sea, which recognised the importance of this subject to the Caribbean States. The resolution contained proposals for follow-up action to be taken in preparation for the forthcoming United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, at which it is hoped that there will be a common approach by CARIFTA States, in the interest of all States of the Commonwealth Caribbean.


The Conference formally recognised the Caribbean Health Ministers Conference as the body responsible for promoting and implementing programmes of Regional co-operation in Health matters, and approved the establishment of a Regional Nursing Body which will be concerned with the raising of the standard of Nursing Education in the Region as well as other aspects of nursing training.

Co-operation in Education

The Conference approved the establishment of a Standing Conference of Ministers of Education of Commonwealth Caribbean Countries to review, on a biennial basis, the progress in regional co-operation in education and to plan new strategies and programmes.

Progress on the establishment of a Caribbean Examinations Council was also reviewed by the Conference.

Agreement was reached on the basis for contribution by the participating countries to the financing of the two law Schools to be set up by the Council of Legal Education, in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

The Supplemental Agreement pertaining to the Council of Legal Education, effected certain changes to the Principal Agreement establishing the Council of Legal Education, which were agreed upon by the participating Governments at the Inaugural Meeting of the Council of Legal Education which took place in Barbados last year.

Regional Agreements

The Heads of Government Conference took time off to obtain signatures to the following regional Agreements:

The Public Service Memorandum of Understanding and

The Supplemental Agreement pertaining to the Council of Legal Education.

All those important regional agreements are now effectually in force.

Cultural Co-operation

The Conference considered proposals from the Caribbean Writers and Creative and Performing Artistes for the institutionalisation of the Caribbean Festival of Creative Arts as the mechanism for developing closer cultural links throughout the Region.

It was agreed that the Festival be held on a triennial basis.

The Government of Jamaica offered to host the next Festival.

The Conference also agreed to the setting up of a Cultural Desk in the Commonwealth Caribbean Regional Secretariat to co-ordinate co-operation in cultural matters in the Region.

Greater Involvement of Women in Caribbean Affairs

The Conference adopted a resolution for the greater involvement of women in Caribbean Affairs and directed the Regional Secretariat to pursue an in-depth study on the position of women in the Commonwealth Caribbean with a view to the removal of any existing discrimination.


The Conference agreed to the establishment of a Standing Committee of Ministers of Labour of the Commonwealth Caribbean which would meet as the occasion demands to map out areas of regional co-operation in Labour Administration and several security measures.

It was also approved that a Labour Administration Desk be created within the Commonwealth Caribbean Regional Secretariat to service this Committee.

Mass Communications

The Conference noted the work already accomplished by the Inter-Governmental Working Party on Mass Communications established in 1970 and recommended that this Working Party should remain in existence and its mandate broadened to pursue certain short-term measures aimed at correcting the imbalance of Communications prevalent in the Communities. It was also recommended that the Regional Secretariat should examine with UNESCO the possibility of establishment of a pilot project in the Region:

(a) to demonstrate the use of mobile television equipment in producing television programmes more relevant to the life of the Communities; and

(b) to organise the Regional production of Programmes.


The Conference in winding-up its one week deliberations paid glowing tribute to the Chairman for his brilliant guidance of the Conference and one speaker – the Prime Minister of Jamaica – described him as “the great statesman of the Third World”.

Delegates also paid warm tribute to the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Caribbean Regional Secretariat for his devotion and dedication to duty. Tribute was also paid to Mr. Alistair Mc Intyre, Director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research for his contribution to the cause of regional integration.

It was agreed that the next Heads of Governments Conference would be held in Guyana early next year.

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