Monday, Sep 01st

LATEST:
You are here: Supplements Weekender Ouenniche: Associate membership of Caricom ‘win-win’ situation for country

Ouenniche: Associate membership of Caricom ‘win-win’ situation for country

caricom_1"The message all along has been for St. Maarten to find some kind of relationship with Caricom," said former Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC) Secretary Ludwig Ouenniche, who welcomed the move by Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams to look into the country becoming an associate member of the Caribbean Community Caricom.

Wescot-Williams had announced this intention following her attendance at the 32nd Regular Meeting of the Conference of the Heads of Government held in St. Kitts, on July 1. This would bring closer the possibility for the country to play a bigger role in the Caribbean.

Ouenniche said the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce, of which he also served as a board member, has been "aggressive in advising government" to make this move over the years due to the Chamber's membership in the CAIC.

The benefits for St. Maarten are vast, especially the ability to tap into funding and programmes not accessible now because of non-membership, he added. What makes this move even more important is the benefit the country would be able to reap for the large number of people living here who are originally from Caricom member countries.

Caricom countries are benefiting from European Union funding and other sources of financing shut off to St. Maarten because of its constitutional position as a country within the Dutch Kingdom; associate membership would clear this barrier.

Access to cheaper generic medication to treat, for example, HIV/AIDS has been a hurdle St. Maarten has been trying to cross while Caricom countries are able to care for people living with this disease in a more cost effective way thanks to Caricom agreements and programmes.

There has been some success with HIV/AIDS funding thanks to collaboration with Caricom through relationships formed by people like Suzette Moses of the government's HIV/AIDS Programme Management Team (PMT) and not on any formal construction, Ouenniche pointed out. This would change once associate membership is attained.

"St. Maarten is confronted on a daily basis with Caribbean needs through your population and business community, the system cannot help because of certain constraints. I can name one major constraint – the economic partnership agreement between Caricom and the European Union. I was constantly reminded, although I played a part in getting the agreement signed, that St. Maarten could not benefit because there was no formal relationship with Caricom," Ouenniche said.

"We have some 65 per cent of our population of Caricom origin and now we are confronted with a system, help that is right there, but the same people from the same countries cannot get that help because they are living in a country that is not part of the system."

If St. Maarten wants to take care of all of its target groups that are in need, the country has to "spread its wings" and explore the possibilities to tap into funding such as through Caricom, he said.

Numerous economic and social papers coming out of the region that are somehow connected to EU funding in the last five years, including the economic partnership agreement Green Paper of the Dutch Caribbean islands, French programme Interrec and Cariform/Domincian Republic agreement that all have "strong recommendations" from EU for collaboration and creation of linkages among the Overseas Countries and Territories in the region and the Caribbean in general.

"As we all know when the EU says it strongly recommends, the message is that you must. The EU has allocated funding to help these collaborations and linkages."

St. Maarten via the now former Netherlands Antilles has already made contributions to the furthering of regional relationships. One contribution has been the planning and execution of the Small Enterprise Stimulation in the Netherlands Antilles SESNA which has been copied and outlined in the Economic Partnership agreement as a model to follow.

St. Maarten, although small, has a vast experience as proven by the SBDF [Small Business Development Foundation] model being voted as the best in the region during a 2009 meeting in Jamaica. "This is to show you that the little experience that we have it had good impact. So the immediate benefit today is that St, Maarten can continue to be used as a regional platform not only for [shipment of] goods, but for services."

Similarly, the country's disaster management model is one of the best in the region with local experts such as Paul Martens invited to give presentations about its formulation. "Today, we can translate that model into a blue print to help Caricom countries at a price. Things coming out of St. Maarten have regional scope – the [RED] campaign to combat HIV/AIDS is another example of a locally grown idea that has been adopted by some Caricom countries. We can translate our success stories into funds and access more money to further develop these plans."

Ouenniche said there's a lot of talk in the community about associate membership in the Caricom not being beneficial to the country. "I would like to ask the reverse question: what are the constraints that we have?"

As an associate member, St. Maarten will not become part of the Caribbean Single Market Economy (CSME) when this gets actively on the way. Also, the country would not have to get involved with any political issues of Caricom member states and would only have to concern itself with social and economic issues that have benefits for its people and economic growth.

"People are afraid that being an associate member we would have to open our borders allowing more immigration. That is not true because it is not even happening right now within the Caricom countries," Ouenniche said.

Closer ties with Caricom would also open doors for local non-governmental organisations to make a difference regionally by sharing ideas as well as gaining knowledge and know-how from counterparts in the Caribbean.

The local private sector has always been a player in the Caribbean and with the move by government to seek associate membership in Caricom, the country's involvement as a key player will be strengthened, said Ouenniche.

Image
St. Martin to attend major China tourism conference
Sunday, 31 August 2014
MARIGOT--A delegation from the Collectivité will visit China at the beginning of September to... Read more...
SHTA: Proposal will make labour market more rigid
Sunday, 31 August 2014
~ Outgoing coalition should focus on annual accounts ~ PHILIPSBURG--The St. Maarten Hospitality and... Read more...
Image
Re-migrant couple caught up in middle of alleged vendetta
Sunday, 31 August 2014
GUYANA--The re-migrant couple in whose names the two Lexus vehicles, now at the centre of an... Read more...
Image
Catholic bishop accused of sex abuse could be tried in Dominican Republic
Friday, 29 August 2014
VATICAN CITY, Italy--Josef Wesolowski, the Vatican's former ambassador to the Dominican Republic,... Read more...
Image
Obama faces bipartisan criticism over his foreign policy
Sunday, 31 August 2014
WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama faced criticism over his foreign policy from both Democratic and... Read more...
Image
Libyan armed group takes over annex of US Embassy
Sunday, 31 August 2014
WASHINGTON--Members of a Libyan militia have taken over an abandoned annex of the U.S. Embassy in... Read more...
Image
Putin calls for talks on east Ukraine "statehood"
Sunday, 31 August 2014
MOSCOW/MARIUPOL, Ukraine--Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Sunday for immediate talks on... Read more...
Grappling with history, EU tests unity, new faces
Sunday, 31 August 2014
BRUSSELS--European Union leaders meeting in Brussels this weekend, amid world war anniversaries,... Read more...
Image
Swatch prefers go-it-alone route for smartwatch plans
Sunday, 31 August 2014
BIEL, Switzerland--Swatch Group is happy to go it alone with a launch next year of watches with... Read more...
Citigroup Inc to pay allowance to compensate for limited bonuses
Sunday, 31 August 2014
NEW YORK--Citigroup Inc has told senior staff in Europe that they would receive fixed monthly pay... Read more...
Image
Legacy vs history
Sunday, 31 August 2014
Dear Editor, My twelve-year-old niece in hearing them speak about what kind of a legacy President... Read more...
Image
Peeved
Sunday, 31 August 2014
Dear Queenie, My best friend and I have been friends for many years, since before we got married,... Read more...
Image
Football Association opens offices in Rue de La Liberté
Sunday, 31 August 2014
MARIGOT--St. Martin Football Association (SMFA) inaugurated its new offices at 34 Rue de La... Read more...
Image
Liverpool thump Spurs, Arsenal held by Leicester
Sunday, 31 August 2014
LONDON-- Liverpool produced an irresistible performance to dismantle a toothless Tottenham Hotspur... Read more...
Image
Pacino plays depressed men twice at Venice film festival
Sunday, 31 August 2014
VENICE--Al Pacino fended off suggestions on Saturday that because he plays depressed characters in... Read more...
Image
Venice film fest puts hard-hitting global issues on screen
Sunday, 31 August 2014
VENICE--The Venice Film Festival has earned a reputation over the decades for tackling... Read more...
Image
A Splash of Excitement & Adventure Shawn York’s newest T-shirt line is out!
Friday, 29 August 2014
Square Miles Apparel created by Shawn "New" York has been turning heads for four years now. If you... Read more...
Animal Defenders SXM
Friday, 29 August 2014
~ Volunteers in the spotlight: Fleur Hermanides ~ For more than three months, a group of wonderful... Read more...
Editorial - Top 10
Sunday, 31 August 2014
The individual votes-count of Friday's election that only became fully available late Saturday... Read more...
Editorial -- Intriguing landscape
Saturday, 30 August 2014
The voters have spoken. Compared to four years ago UP replaced NA as the largest party but fell... Read more...
Image
Saturday Aug. 09, 2014
Friday, 08 August 2014
Image
Friday Aug. 08, 2014
Friday, 08 August 2014
Notices September 1
Sunday, 31 August 2014
Afterschool activities Simpson Bay Afterschool activities programme provided by Stichting expertise... Read more...
Notices August 30
Saturday, 30 August 2014
Sunday, August 31 SPORTS DAY Organised by St. Maarten Women's Cricket Association Place: Caribe... Read more...