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(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Hon. Patrick Manning, Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), sees the CARICOM Single Market as one of the most important milestones in the development of Caribbean regional integration.

In wide ranging remarks in Barbados on Wednesday 28 June, at the opening session of Caribbean Connect, a High-Level three day Symposium on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), Mr. Manning said, “I am certain that later on, it will be seen as one of the greatest moments in the history of our Region as it is intended to be, and more than likely, will positively impact the future development and progress of our Region. “

The Chairman was confident that “no one can question the genuine care and commitment of regional States to CARICOM unity” but acknowledged the “legitimate issues” surrounding the establishment of the Single Market which the three-day symposium would do well to contemplate.

Mr. Manning told the participants, comprising CARICOM government officials and policy-makers, representatives of business, the labour movement, donor community officials, regional financial and development institutions, academia and other stakeholders: “If assurances are required by the Region’s smaller and more vulnerable economies, then we must provide such assurances, lest in respect of our response to their apprehension, our approach becomes tantamount to what we normally decry when it emerges from our metropolitan trading partners in the North Atlantic.”

Caribbean Connect, under the patronage of the Rt. Honourable Owen Arthur, Prime Minister of Barbados and Head of Government with lead responsibility for the CSME, is the implementation of a decision by CARICOM Heads of Government in February 2006, to hold high-level consultations in four policy areas critical for economic development and transformation in the context of the evolving CARICOM Single Market and Economy. These are, “Enhanced Monetary Cooperation,” held in Montego Bay, Jamaica, 18 May 2006, and “Macro-Economic and Sectoral Policy Harmonisation,” “Production Integration,” and “Capacity Building and Institutional Strengthening,” the focus of this three-day broad-based Consultation, 28-30 June 2006.

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