New OECS treaty ready to be signed

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts & Nevis: Grenada’s Prime Minister, Tillman Thomas, has announced the new treaty of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) will be signed in Basseterre next month.

Thomas made the announcement at the conclusion of the 50th meeting of the OECS Authority last Friday.

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 Reuben Meade had earlier said 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,” said Meade. “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.”

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

“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.

Thomas told reporters the sub-regional leaders had given serious consideration to the subject of freedom of movement and that the leaders also reviewed the harmonization of immigration laws and social security systems.

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

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