New Treaty of Basseterre To Be Signed In St. Kitts

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Treaty To Be Signed In December 2009

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
November 21, 2009 (CUOPM)

The new Treaty of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) will be signed in the St. Kitts capital in December.

This was disclosed Friday in Anguilla by Grenada’s Prime Minister Hon. Tillman Thomas at the conclusion of the historic 50th meeting of the OECS Authority.

A CMC Report said that the Grenada Prime Minister, Hon. Tillman Thomas, deputising for OECS Chairman, the Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, who is also the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, who chaired the meeting, told reporters that the signing of the new treaty on December 29th in St. Kitts will be preceded by a special meeting of the Authority to “consider the treatment of recommendations and the draft Treaty arising from the public consultations” in the all the islands.

Prime Minister Thomas said that the new OECS Treaty will come into effect in June 2010, the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Basseterre.

A statement issued by the Montserrat government, said the British Overseas Territory will not have to negotiate its position within the establishment of the OECS Economic Union, one of the measures contained in the new treaty.

Montserrat’s Chief Minister Hon. Ben Meade had earlier declared that it would be a “travesty if in reshaping the Treaty of Basseterre, Montserrat…is asked to choose whether we would be welcome as an equal partner within the OECS Economic Union.

“We do not wish to negotiate for our rights of belonging neither should we retreat to a choice of being included or being left out in the cold.  Montserrat insists that all full members should automatically be part of the new body without seeking permission from those on whose colonial doorsteps we continue to loiter,” the recently elected Chief Minister said.

But when the OECS summit ended on Friday, Meade said he had been given clarification from his colleagues regarding Montserrat’s position.

“The OECS Economic Treaty is intended to further cement the integration of the member states, which include Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Montserrat was one of the founding members of the OECS when it was established with the signing of the Treaty of Basseterre in 1981,” the Montserrat government statement said.

It said the draft treaty includes the process of removing barriers to trade between national markets in goods, services, movement of capital and labour forces, which will transform the islands into a single financial and economic space.

Eleven sectors have been listed in the treaty for joint action. They include civil aviation, agriculture, tourism, education, environmental sustainability, marine, disaster response and telecommunications.

Prime Minister Thomas told reporters the sub-regional leaders had given serious consideration to the emotive subject of freedom of movement.

He said the leaders also reviewed the harmonisation of immigration laws and the social security systems.

The ongoing global and economic crisis was also discussed during the two-day meeting.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and his Dominican counterpart Roosevelt Skerritt, both of whom have crucial electoral matters were not present at the meeting that was also attended by former Jamaica Prime Minister, Mr.  P.J. Patterson and the former Commonwealth Secretary General Sir Shridath Ramphal.

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