VOL. 84.] SAINT VINCENT, THURSDAY, 1 FEBRUARY, 1951. [NO. 7.
GOVERNMENT NOTICES. closer unity between the British West
As the Commission observe, a customs
union could be established either with
No. 59. or without political federation, and its
formation can therefore be considered
REPORT OF THE COMMISSION ON quite separately from the wider issue.
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A CUS- The Report indicates the substantial
TOMS UNION IN THE BRITISH advantages which are to be gained from
CARIBBEAN AREA. such an union, and sets out with admir-
able clarity and detail the practical steps
by whicl it might be achieved.
In commending the'Report to the
Message from the Secretary of State for Legislatures tor the earnest consideration
the Colonies to the peoples of the which it merits, and which I hope will
West Indies on publication of the be given to it with all reasonable ex-
Customs Union Report on petition, I would like to repeat what
February 1st, 1961. Mr. CREECH JONES said in his message
at the time of the publication oC the two
S- other Reports mentioned above ; namely,
I wish to express my appreciation of that His Miajesty's Government have no
the valuable services rendered by the wish to prejudge or influence the deci-
members of the Commission for the sions of the representatives of the West
Establishment of a Customs Union in Indian peoples in this matter, but that
the British Caribbean Area, whose Re- they will be ready to assist in any
port is published today. It is a worthy measures which, after examination of the
companion to the Reports of the Stand- Report by the Legislatures, may appear
ing Closer Association Committee and feasible and in furtherance of the aims
the Commission on the Unification of accepted at the Montego Bay Conference
the Public Services,and it formsanother in 1947."
important contribution to the cause of 1st February, 1951.
40 SAINT VINCENT, THURSDAY, 1 FEBRUARY, 1951.-kjNo. 7).
Despatch from the .Secretary of State for the Colonies
dated 22nd December, 1950.
71295/19/50 Colonial Office,
The Church House,
JAMAICA No. 276 Great Smith Street,
BRITISH HONDURAS No. 121 London, S.W.1.
BRITISH GUIANA No. 163
TRINIDAD No. 259 22nd December, 1950.
BARBADOS No. 121
WINDWARD ISLANDS No. 127
LEEWARD ISLANDS No. 103
I have the honour to refer to the Report of the Commission on the
Establishment of a Customs Union in the British Caribbean Area, which is to be
published on the 1st February, 1951.
2. This Report, which is a worthy companion to those of the Standing Closer
Association Committee and the Commission on the Unification of the
Public Services, merits the most careful and serious consideration. For it
will be recalled that, in paragraph 10 of the Memorandum on Closer Association of
the British West Indian Colonies, which formed an enclosure to my predecessor's
circular despatch of the 14th February, 1947 (Cmd. 7120), it was stated that
"probably no other single reform would bring such benefit to the colonies
concerned as the establishment of a full customs union, or at any rate a common
customs tariff". Furthermore, the Standing Closer Association Committee
expressed the view that a customs union is "the foundation of a federal
structure (paragraph 30 of the Committee's Report).
3. The fiscal Sub-Committee appointed at the Montego Bay Conference in
1947 to submit proposals on the question of customs union recorded, in paragraph
12 of its Report, that the establishment of a customs union would result in :-
(a) the encouragement of inter-colonial trade, which would naturally be
duty-free within the union;
(b) the establishment of uniformity in tariff rates and customs
(c) increased efficiency in the collection of revenue;
(d) the strengthening of the position of the British Caribbean territories as
far as bargaining power is concerned in relation to international trade
(e) the encouragement of local industries.
The Commission readily subscribes to the Fiscal Sub-Committee's views,
observing that "Freer commercial exchange between the British Carribean
territories would undoubtedly foster a more varied economy throughout the area".
It also expressed the view that the establishment of a customs union is not
dependent on political federation but that it would "inevitably tend towards
creating conditions inviting closer political unity (paragraphs 11, 12 and 63 of
4. Although the Commission indicates a method by which a customs union
might be achieved in stages,, it feels that since the obstacles to be overcome in its
establishment are so few and the desire for an early measure of fiscal and
economic unity so general, anything in the nature of a transitional period is
neither necessary nor expedient. It recommends, therefore, the establishment at
the earliest opportunity of a customs union embracing all the British Caribbean
territories, with the exception, for the time being, of the British Virgin Islands and
the Jamaican Dependencies of the Cayman and the Turks and Caicos Islands
(paragraph 71 and 136-140).
5. One of the most valuable of the Commission's achievements has been the
preparation of a common tariff structure and a common classification for trade
statistics (paragraphs 32-43). In this connection, however, I must draw your
.attention to the following points. The Commission took as its framework for its
tariff structure and statistical classification (Part I of the First Schedule to the
Draft Ordinance at Appendix B), the Minimum List of Commodities for
'Intern.tional Trade Statistics published by the League of Nations in 1938,
anticipating that the revised version of it, on which the United Nations Statistical
Commission was engaged when the Commission was at work, would emerge with
SAINT VINCENT, THURSDAY, 1 FEBRUARY, 1951.-(No. 7). 41
comparatively few changes, thus making it a relatively simple matter to align the
Commission's recommendations with the United Nations List when it was
published. The United Nations Statistical Commission has now completed its
labours, "and its list, which is called -the: "Standard International Trade
Classificationn, was approved by :the Economic and Social Council in July.
Unfortunately it-represents rather more of a departure from the League of Nations.
" Minimum List" than the Commission had any reason to expect. His Majesty's
Government have not yet made known their views regarding a possible change-
over from the present classification used in the United Kingdom for primary
statistical purposes to the new "Standard International Trade Classification ".
(I might mention here that the Colonial Government Statisticians, at their
conference in March, were not able to consider the final draft of the United
Nations Classification as it was not available to them at that time; they did,
however, express the view that the extent to which such a classification was used
by the United Kingdom would influence colonial territories- see paragraph 24 of
the Report on the Conference, enclosed with my circular despatch of the 31st
August 1950). I am hopeful t hat a decision by His Majesty's Government will not
be long delayed, and I will communicate'it to you with my comments as soon as-
possible. Meanwhile, I am unable to give you anyguidance other than that His
Majesty's Government would hot favour the adoption at this date of the old
"Minimum List" for tariff or statistical purposes.
6. The Commission's proposals for a common tariff (paragraphs 73 to 89),
particularly those relating to margins of preference, represent, in my opinion, a
reasonable balance in general conformity with the spirit of the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. But you will be aware that, under Article XXIV
(7) of that Agreement (as amended--see' page 34 of Cmd. 8048 "Provisional
Consolidated Text of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and Texts of
Related Documents ", copies of which were transmitted to Colonial Governments
under cover of my circular savingram of the 24th November, 1950), it is necessary
to submit any plan adopted for the establishment of a Customs Union to the
Contracting. Parties for their approval; and there is always the possibility that
they may ask for modifications.
7. Paragraphs 17-19 of the Report deal with the question of free trade and
its effect on revenues. This aspect of customs union will need to receive very close
attention since the establishment of a free trade area. would result in a loss of'
revenue to each colony in respect to the duties hitherto collected on dutiable
goods imported from or exported to other member colonies. It is, however, to be
noted that the Commission consider that, while the loss could to some extent be
reduced by the levying of excise duties on the lines proposed in Chapter V of the
Report, and to a lesser extent by reserving to member colonies the right to
continue to levy export duties as indicated in Chapter VI, it would probably, in the
main, be more than met by the operation of a scientifically balanced common
8. I do not propose at this stage to comment in any detail on the Draft Model
Customs Ordinance or the Draft Customs Regulations which form Appendices B
and C to the Report. There are, however, various points in them which would
require consideration, and I should, therefore, wish to be given an opportunity of
studying in draft any legislation which might be contemplated.
9. 'In paragraphs 44 to 49 the Commission make various proposals for the
mechanical and centralised compilation of trade and revenue statistics, the-
adoption of which should effect considerable improvement on existing procedure.
Recent developments, however, bring a new possibility into consideration-that-
work on centralised mechanical tabulations could be shared between Jamaica and
Trinidad. As regards the statement in paragraph 49 that in regard to the form
in which statistical material when abstracted can best be presented,, the
Commission understands that the question is at present receiving consideration
by the Colonial Oifice ", it will be recalled that at the above-mentioned Conference
of Colonial Government Statisticians, it was agreed "that a. uniform layout of
Trade. Accounts was not essential at the present time, although some degree of
regional uniformity was desirable" (paragraph 26 of the Report of the
10. The Report is now to be considered by the Legislatures., I realise, of
course, the very substantial task they already have in hand in their examination
of the two other Reports mentioned in paragraph 2 above : but I hope that it will
be possible for them to address themselves to the study of this Report in the near
futui'e, and I shall await the outcome of. their deliberations with great interest.
The decision as to whether or not a customs union shall be established' rests
primarily with them; and His.Majesty's Government does tnot wish to prejudge
or influence their decision. The Legislatures may, find it convenient to confine
themselves for the time being to the consideration of the main issue, namely, the
42 SAINT VINCENT, THURSDAY, 1 FEBRUARY, 1951..-(No. 7).
desirability and practicability of establishing a Customs Unaion in the light of the
arguments and factors set out in the Report. If, as I hope may be the case, they
all agree to the establishment of such an Union, I would suggest that the details
might bp worked out by a committee containing representatives of the various
territories, possibly the proposed regional economic committee, referred to in my
(to Jamaica) No. 292
(to British Honduras) No. 114
(to British Guiana) No. 140
(to Trinidad) No. 213
(to Barbados) No. 105
(to Windward Islands) No. 112
(to Leeward Islands) No. 86
of the 17th November, 1950, if it is decided to establish that body. Meanwhile, if
there is any assistance which I can render to governments in this matter by way
of advice or in any other form, I shall be most willing to give it.
11. I am sending copies of this despatch to all West Indian Governors, and
also, for information, to the Comptroller of the Development and Welfare
Organisation and to the Colonial Attache at the British Embassy, Washington.
I have the honour to be,
Your most obedient,
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION FOR SALE.
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Report of the Commission on the
Establishment of a Customs Union
in the British Caribbean Area.
1st February, 1951.
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1st February, 1951.
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