CARICOM grants deferral to Antigua on freedom of movement


Two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries have been granted a five year deferral on the freedom of movement of Caribbean nationals under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) that allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across the 15-member grouping, Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has said.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley, speaking to reporters on Sunday (CMC Photo)

While he did not name the two regional countries, authorities here confirmed than Antigua and Barbuda was one of them.

Rowley, speaking at a news conference here on Sunday, reminded reporters that Port of Spain had last December hosted a special CARICOM summit on the CSME where “we got unanimous support for the acceleration towards a single market and economy.

“In that arrangement is the whole question of freedom of movement of individuals…among the territories, everybody agreed to that (but) by the next meeting, while there is commitment to that two CARICOM territories raised and asked for a deferral of the freedom of movement which that development was directing us to”.

He said these two territories were able to tell CARICOM at the two-day Inter-sessional meeting in St. Kitts-Nevis last week that “we have been practising in this before the rest of you have now agreed to do it.

“So within our borders, we have a huge amount of Caribbean people for whom no barrier was put to them. Now that we are saying it is to be policy…and legal standing is put for ease of migration these two territories found themselves saying this may generate within our borders and in some instances have already generated concerns about the balance of the population within their borders’.

Rowley told reporters that as a result the two territories “asked for a five year deferral as not to be bound legally to accept any and all who would come into their borders because the effect that would have”.

He said this situation had only arisen “because of the size. It is not the willingness to participate or the willingness to accept the CSME as the best arrangement for us. But this effect on the smallest is a practical situation and I dare say that the rest of the CARICOM saw and understood what was being said by our CARICOM neighbours in that situation and granted the deferral”.

In the communique issued following the summit in St. Kitts-Nevis, the regional leaders said regarding the CSME that they had “reviewed progress on decisions taken” at a previous summit and that “welcomed the fact that all countries have signed the Protocol on Contingent Rights.

“In addition, eight countries have decided to apply the measures that would allow their nationals to benefit in those countries from the provisions of that agreement on contingent rights which allows for spouses and dependents of skilled workers who move to another country to access services such as education and health on the same basis as nationals”.

It said that these countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago

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  1. When are we going to stop with this deferrals. If its widely agreed that to build stronger economies in the region we need to come together as one then we need to bite the bullet and implement the necessary measures that allows us to attain a single economy. Why this should take us 50 years if it’s important . Antigua has always been a leader where regional integration is of concerned and we must contnue to lead not ask for deferrals. I am not sure if the great VC Bird was alive that he would agree with that move. There is no proof that everyone is going to move to antigua . We have opened up In the OECS and apart from the hurricane event I haven’t seen the entire OECS coming into antigua . I do believe that the job market will dictate where persons move too. Its come like the decriminalization of maijuana where a number of persons argued that once implemented we would realize a significant amount of abuse of the herb and more persons will smoke , well I have not seen any new smoker since that act has been passed . Free circulation of goods , another important feature of a single market. Again not implemented maybe after 50 studies , 100 workshops locally and that of COTED , ministers traveling , a complete waste of money and nothing happening. More than 20 years of discussion and we cannot implement. Simply because some governments believes that citizen will import to the country with lower border taxes and then transport to home country . So we then pushing for harmonisation of tax rates . Like really. Why don’t we start with free circulation for goods bought within a member country and goods imported extra regionally ,must be owned and resident for six months within a member country before being qualified for free circulation. Free movement of capital , while the RGSM has played an important role in ssisting governments with needed financing the banks have continue to be highly traditional in their attitude towards lending. One area is where someone in Dominica what’s to use collateral domicile in antigua to secure a loan in Dominica. Say a piece of land . The banks have refused to hold that piece of land as collateral. It’s just time for the talk shop to end and let the action begin.

    • Antigua is so small and already flooded with Jamaicans, Guyanese, and other islands. I literally was telling my mother a few days ago. In about 10 years, more than half the population will have Jamaican or Guyanese ancestry. In fact, Jamaicans will run Antigua. In 10 years, I will be seeing someone of Jamaican ancestry in the government.

      What I am saying is, because of how small the country is, we can not join that section of Caricom, not to that scale. I believe people who want this Caricom free movement nonsense within smaller islands that already have population issues and job issues, are requesting it from selfishness. It makes no logical sense to implement this unless there is a substantial need for workers and in Antigua it is the opposite, there are substantial need for jobs.

      Strengthening our economy is first.

    • “There is no proof that everyone is going to move to antigua .”, Yeah? Then how come we are now 49% of the population? What that represents statistically, is 100% population growth. So in addition to looking out for you and your children, there is another similar amount of persons who have to share the same pie, who are here for no other reason than the door was left open to them and certain politicians desire to stay in power.
      This is similar to you going on the streets and picking up a number of random children up to the amount that you now have and ask your children to share their beds, food, books, clothes etc. Surely you love them too much to do that but what does that say about our leaders?
      Another point, a parish in Jamaica probably has more persons living there than Antigua. With our never ending open-door policy and amnesty, just by association, family and friends will continue to come. When do we decide that enough is enough? Or better yet, we are placing ourselves in a position where we can never say that enough is enough.

  2. I’m happy to hear this is now happening i would prefer for us to remove entirely from caricom but that’s another topic. Antigua for one has practice this for donkey years while the other island send they scallywags and waste people to our shores and we accept them with open arms while when we go to other countries we are treated like murderers … Antigua need fu shut its doors and let in who can really help the country by proper contribution in every aspect because that what the other countries do … any which way good move ..

  3. @ Tedashnomics –
    you dont have the OECS coming to Antigua because we share the same EC currency and the standard of living is on par.
    However all the unskilled (and criminal) Jamaicans will come here because of the weak Jamaica dollar. A security guard in Antigua makes more than a bank supervisor in Jamaica in absolute US dollars. Our classrooms are already overcrowded and the Hospital waiting time is over 10 hours. Plus we have more than enough Jamaican and Spanish whore houses and prostitutes lining our streets. And this is before freedom of movement. What you think will happen when we open the floodgates.

  4. There is really no need because the horse has bolted a long ago thanks to our politicians and ALP in particular with their open-door policy.
    Just let them in and start praying! Antigua as we know it is already DEAD!!!!

  5. It’s amazing how them keep allowing EBERYBADY IN ARL DE TIME and den go ask fu deferral over and over agen! !
    I wonder when general elections draw near if they are going to remember that we are top heavy with non nationals or political expediency will blurr memories of what is right and decent?

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