Antigua and Barbuda
Consultation for Civil Society Organization
The Caribbean Single Market and Economy
Key Issues and Concerns
A CARICOM INITIATIVE
Supported by the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and
Commerce and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Antigua and
Coordinated by Civil Society Coordinating Committee.
Multi-purpose Centre, Antigua
May 30, 2002
**Main recommendations/Issues for consideration
Key Issues coming out of the Civil Society National Consultation on the
1. Human Resource Development:
1.1 One of the first challenges that must be addressed is engendering a change of mind
set. We must begin to think regionally, not locally. We must see ourselves as Caribbean
people, not as Antiguans, Jamaicans or Kittitians. This is going to require a major
educational program or marketing campaign. The continual dissemination of information,
as the process evolves, should be a critical part of the program.
Then what is the role of the private sector in this process? The role of the private sector is
one that involves productivity and the creation of new wealth. This depends on the
education and training systems that are in place. This means there must be synergy
between the private and public sectors. The private sector demands qualified workers and
public sector, through the school system, prepares individuals for positions. The private
sector then must take an active role in the education and training process.
1.2 There must be partnerships formed with the public sector. There must be
collaboration between all stakeholders such as the schools, the private sector, the
Ministry of Education, Planning and the Board of Education who funds the scholarships.
One possible model is the establishment of school boards with representation from all the
stakeholders identified above.
1.3 That brings us to the question of standards. There must be a process in place that
establishes standards and certification to ensure certain skill levels are attained and
maintained in the various occupations e.g. plumbers, electricians, carpenters etc.
Currently there is no standardization. Standards in one area may be different in another
and there is no method of recognizing one's skill level. There needs to be a body such as
a board that sets out what needs to be learned, how the requirements can be fulfilled
whether it's through formal education or through apprenticeship. So that when a plumber
moves from one area to another, one can be assured that he/she has the required level of
Certification for non-formal and adult education is essential to facilitate free movement
of people and choice of movement regional employability. We must understand each
others' skill levels via standardization and certification. We must begin to produce to
1.4 We should not "buy Caribbean" simply because we are committed to the
development of the Caribbean. This may perpetuate the systems of corruption, patronage
and general mismanagement and inefficiency. We need to focus on greater efficiency in
productivity, seek to reduce operating and production costs and thereby ensure the
ongoing and increasing demand for our products and services in a global environment.
1.5 Ignorance is more expensive than education Private sector needs to invest in
employees' education to produce quality service and service-providers. Appropriate
economic and other incentives to organizations and businesses that invest in HRD of their
members & employees.
1.6 An inventory of our skills must be undertaken we need to become multi-skilled.
We need to know what we have so we can identify what we will need for future
development. We must have access to our collective skills banks and develop relevant
skills in our people.
1.7 Create at a national level a culture of regionalism at all levels of Civil Society.
1.8 There should be a regionally accredited non-traditional approach to education and
training. This will assist in the development of formal and informal systems of business.
Education for Living and Economic Opportunities are possible areas for training. We
must also focus on skills for entrepreneurship and self-employment.
**1.9 Tripartism is critical no one entity can achieve this unity on its own.
We must develop a national culture of cooperation private sector entities,
community groups, social clubs, labour organizations, etc. must be encouraged to
co-operate to further develop their membership. In this regard, we endorse
PROMALCO (Programme for Labour Management Cooperation), an ILO
initiative that is currently being implemented in a number of participating
territories. We also salute the Barbadian social partnership model. Both initiatives
provide us with the opportunity to study and replicate best practices.
**1.10 URGENT & CRITICAL: Public relations and marketing strategies and
campaigns on the programmes, plans and achievements of regionalism to ensure the
success of the CSME residents need free access to information strategic
dissemination of information on CSME on doctors shelves, store counters, etc.
2. Justice and Governance:
2.1 Non-accountability and lack of transparency thrive in an environment of dependence
2.2 **Fundamental to the achievement of accountability and transparency in the
governance of our societies is the involvement and participation of people in all
strata of society in the life of the community as is reasonably possible. This
involvement and participation in the life our communities will serve to eliminate the
twin cycles of dependence and ignorance.
2.3 There has to be a decided and deliberate shift from the dependence on the
Government and Government officials to provide the means of livelihood and the
standard of living of the individual and simultaneously the empowerment of people to
take hold of or create the opportunities for enhancing the quality of their lives.
2.4 **The empowerment of people in this manner may be achieved
A. by the provision of information itself and equipping people with the tools by
which they can gain information,
B. by the development of a communication, public relations and public
education strategy focusing on the opportunities which will be gained
through regional integration.
C. by re-educating people to think region-wide rather than island-wide
D. by the creation of an umbrella CSO Organization with a mandate of
strengthening and supporting individual CSOs in their initiatives to educate
an empower their membership and to provide a conduit through which
information may be disseminated. The creation of the umbrella CSO would
best be accomplished by establishing national CSO networks and by forging
workable partnerships between Governments and CSOs.
E. by the establishment of the CCJ which serves as a unifying institution as the
ultimate judicial decision maker, resource by persons who come from our
experience as Caribbean people and whose responsibility it would be to
interpret our laws having regard to that experience and being mindful of the
actual expectations and standards of the people of the region.
F. by amending the existing Charter of Civil Society having solicited the views
and contributions of CSOs within the region through an extensive and
exhaustive process of consultation, and making it a requirement of the
member states of CARICOM that the amended Charter be passed into Law
in each state.
G. by making it mandatory that each member state pass into law an Integrity in
Public Office Statute and an Anti-Corruption Code.
3. Competitiveness and CSME:
Strategies Needed to Promote Global Competitiveness of Regional Firms
3.1 Competitive advantage can be gained based on price and
differentiation. Sandals Resort has successfully competed on both
counts. The product is differentiated based on its unique Caribbean
flavour. Focus and cooperation are two other elements on which we can compete e.g.
regional focus such as was applied to bananas could be applied to Sea Island cotton. It
was noted that firms compete and not products. It was then suggested that people come
together to form cooperative farms. The objective is to form horizontal linkage in the
first instance and ultimately vertical linkages.
3.2 If regional firms are to compete based on price, then we must lower our operational
costs. This can be accomplished through economies of scale and scope. Economies of
scale are realized when fixed costs are spread over higher production levels, while
economies of scope relate to an expansion of the range of products or services produced
by a given asset. One way to achieve such economies of scale and scope is through
mergers and acquisitions. Local success stories can be found in the examples of the
ABIB/Swiss American Bank merger and the APUA PCS launch which saw APUA
utilizing its existing telecommunications network to launch a profitable cellular phone
3.3 A benchmarking exercise should be conducted to prioritize commodities. Regional
Transformation Programme has been doing just this looking for commonalities and
strengths. Seven commodities have been identified. Cotton is not included in this short
list. This crop does best in the OECS and Barbados. It is one the exportable products
that could be grown in these territories and the value added component be done in one of
the other territories.
3.4 It was pointed out that other countries are seeking to take advantage of the
opportunity to infringe on the attractiveness of some uniquely Caribbean products.
Specific reference was made of Japan's interest in Sea Island cotton. Rather than trying
to prevent larger economies from infringing on the relative advantages that our
commodities possess, should we look towards joint ventures as an alternative?
3.5 If we are going to be strong as a regional single market, we must develop a regional
approach drawing on the distinctive competencies of the various territories. Therefore,
the country that is best suited to cultivation may not be suited to the industrialized valued
added component of the process. The same principle can be applied to the manufacturing
If local and regional firms are to differentiate their products and services, quality
standards and certification must assume paramount importance. Consumers must have
some objective means of comparing our goods and services to those offered by the
competition. We must bear in mind that, in the era of trade liberalization, competition is
not just local but also regional and international. Therefore, our standards and quality
must be internationally competitive as the days of preferential treatment for substandard
goods and services are no more.
3.6 Currency is a critical factor as the existing exchange rates result in lower
operating/production costs in some territories.
> Identify specific products/commodities that have unique attributes that would make
them competitive in the global market. The strategy would be to pursue niche
markets. We must patent the genetic material for those elements that make our
products unique and desirable. Specific examples include hot peppers, Sea Island
cotton, Antigua Black Pineapple.
S**Pursue both horizontal and later vertical integration of firms with an emphasis on
adding value to the product. For example, initially market the raw material but then
move towards processing the product with the ultimate objective of marketing
finished product. This would enable us to keep the value in the region.
S**Industries should be allocated to specific territories based on their individual
Access to Capital
3.8 Liquidity must be channeled into productive capacity rather than simply saving it.
With the advent of the Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange, businesses now have the
option to have their stocks traded publicly thereby raising much needed capital.
3.9 **International capital that is accessed by governments should be filtered down
to individual companies.
3.10 **Businesses could benefit from consultants who assist them in deciphering the
requirements of financiers. Such assistance would enable companies to more
effectively access capital.
3.11 **Encourage banks to have a more proactive interest rate policies charge
better interest rates for long-term developments.
Attracting Foreign Capital
3.12 Both the government and the private sector should seek to emphasize the relative
strengths of the Caribbean as an investment opportunity. These strengths include the
presence of an English-speaking workforce, easy access to both North America and
Europe, generally high literacy rates, high safety rating, political stability etc.
3.13 "*Cooperatives in developed countries can also be explored as an alternative
source of external funding. Governments have a tendency to interfere and prevent
such alliances unless there is some governmental involvement. Government must
create an enabling environment for such initiatives. Rather than being a market
player in and of itself, Governments should seek to assume the role of enablers.
Measures That Can Be Taken By Governments, Private Sector & Labour
3.14 **National consultations must precede the development of policy and strategic
plans. In this way the business community can develop corporate strategies that are
consistent with the national & regional policy.
Constraints to the Freedom of Movement
3.15 Effective intra-regional transportation both by air and by sea is critical to the
implementation of the CSME. It may be necessary to subsidize this service in the first
instance. This is an essential service, and such subsidies can be rationalized.
3.16 The operation of our port poses a severe impediment. There is a lack of efficiency
and resulting high costs. Unless this is addressed, the cost of goods will not be reduced.
3.17 The establishment of the Single Market is also hampered by existing statutory
provisions that militate against these objectives. For example, all CARICOM territories
have alien land holding restrictions in one form or the other. These statutes deem non-
nationals aliens and restrict their ability to readily own property and hence the ability to
establish business. Work permit requirements have a similar restrictive effect.
3.18 The media radio and television have a critical role to play in creating a
"oneness" within CARICOM. The private sector on a regional level must take the
initiative in establishing a CARICOM-wide radio and television network to cover news
and current events throughout the region. The proposed CARICOM media would
provide instant access to markets and information from Jamaica to Belize.
4. Culture and the CSME:
4.1 **The CSME needs to have a Cultural focus strategy that asks the following
questions: A. Does this initiative empower people? B. Does it engender
national pride?, C. Does it deepen commitment to community and homeland?
D. does it enhance the creativity of the region? This strategy should be all
encompassing in that it embraces and synthesizes the characteristics of both
the political and the economic putting the CSME in a developmental context
inextricably bound to the social and the political realities of the region.
4.2 A major thrust of our Cultural development as we move towards deeper
integration is the development of the creative imagination or the creativity of
regional peoples. It must be noted that the regional Cultural Policy calls for the
need 'to develop the creative imagination not only for artistic interests but
problem-solving in general'. It further states that we nourish 'the orientation to
creativity, self reliance and self-realization'.
4.3 As we plan for the way forward we need to note that it is a peoples' creativity
and not their arts which is their most potent liberating force. You may express
creativity through the arts but you also do it in struggle, organization, teaching
and preaching-in all human activities aimed at liberation. Therefore we need to
The allocation of major resources at affecting the creativity or creativeness
of the whole society and not only towards the technical development of
The creation and sustainability of programmes and institutions that
promotes creativity as the basis for building self-confidence and
sharpening the resolves to meet our development challenges with new and
The plans and process that empower people and liberate them to their
creativity and self development.
4.4 We need to recognize and own cultural artefacts pan, Antigua Black
pineapple, herbs, etc. Music is a unifying force in the region. We need to feel
pride in what is ours. We need to find creative ways of preserving and protecting
these cultural artefacts, since we are fast losing revenue and identity to
international countries. We must market our cultural /entertainment / hospitality
industries (music, foods, dress, etc.) source of capital. Music and other forms
of cultural expression must be in our schools, hotels, and at every major function
in the region. Identify and promote products and services on their strengths
(unique selling positions) e.g: honey, pineapple
4.5 **Can cultural industries contribute to the development and widening of the
CSME? Yes. Alternative medicine is a concrete example. Music and the
performing arts are further examples. We also have certain unique products -
e.g. Antiguan honey (which is considered to be the only honey in the region that
is 'disease fee ').
4.6 We need to patent our material so that it is not "stolen". We also need to
develop our copyright legislation.
4.7 Collective memories of the region should be documented production of
pharmaceutical "remedies" for the region e.g.: plants from Antigua mixed with
herbs from Dominica and St. Lucia could result in medical breakthroughs -
scientific analysis of indigenous products.
4.8 Education is key efficiency and effective production of various industries
must be mandated, and our people must make sacrifices to get us out of the
starting blocks we must understand the need to perhaps buy Caribbean in spite
of the price in order to raise capital to allow us to effectively compete on the
4.9 **We must think of ourselves as Caribbean people first not Antiguan,
or Barbadian or Dominican.
4.10 Copyrights / intellectual property rights laws must be introduced and
mandated regionally. Organizations which champion these enactments must be
supported and financed.
4.11 Scientific and innovative means of documenting what we have. E.g.: secret
ingredient in pineapple; establishment of a "model village" (old-time village).
Sustainability of such vehicles of expression as dialect / language; Heritage
Display; arts festivals, etc., is essential for the viability of our culture.
Documentation of region's contributions to and impacts on the international arena
is critical to ownership.
4.12 Means of exposing our youth to all aspects of culture to ensure continuity through