Leaders call for greater SICA-CARICOM integration

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic: The president of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernandez, and the assistant secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Albert Ramdin, have called on Central American and Caribbean leaders to work together to improve employment opportunities.

The call was made during a forum titled “Economic Perspectives and Challenges for Central America and the Caribbean in the Global Economy” hosted by the OAS and FUNGLODE (Foundation for Global Democracy and Development) on the sidelines of the  Americas Competitiveness Forum V in the Dominican Republic last week.
During his presentation, Fernandez called on the OAS to assist in the institutional simplification of mechanisms to promote Caribbean-Central American relations. He urged the OAS to initiate dialogue on a single regional entity which could facilitate economic, political and cultural integration between the two sub-regions.
Fernandez identified food security and tourism as areas in which the two regions could share competencies.
Addressing the gathering, which also included Ministers of Economy, Trade and Industry, as well as private sector representatives from the Central American Integration System (SICA) and CARICOM countries, Ramdin said: “The time has come for countries in both regions to go beyond traditional markets. Through greater integration, both regions will be better prepared to face the consequences of a worsening debt crisis in Europe and slower growth in the United States.

“Governments of CARICOM and Central America, therefore, must be willing to re-examine the environment for trade and minimize barriers while the private sector must be ready to engage creatively with their counterparts.”
The SICA-CARICOM region currently comprises a market of approximately 55 million people and 22 countries. Ramdin identified some of the current barriers to trade as transportation, connectivity, a lack of data on investment and economic opportunities, varied regulations and legislation, visa restrictions and a language barrier.

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