Barbados PM Attacks OECS Unity

Barbados PM attacks OECS unity

Wednesday October 19 2005

by Nikisha Smith

Barbadian Prime Minister Owen Arthur yesterday accused Antigua & Barbuda of being a principal cause for the fractured spirit of OECS trade agreements.

At the luncheon hosted by the Antiguan Chamber of Commerce for the CSME contingent, Barbadian Prime Minister Owen Arthur candidly told former Trade Minister Hilroy Humphreys and Antiguans at large, that they need to apply treaties in order to benefit from them.

The contretemps began when Humphreys, former parliamentary minister in the ALP administration, said that as a manufacturer, he has serious concerns about the right of establishment in relation to the Caribbean Single Market & Economy.

Arthur in his response, however, said the original Treaty of Chaguaramas had carved out a way for countries to establish what industries will be their focus and for other countries to buy goods produced within the region, thereby creating a self-sustaining interdependent wheel.

Arthur, however, said countries did not take full advantage of this consideration.

Both Humphreys and Arthur related to a recent incident in which Antigua stopped buying flour from St. Vincent and instead started buying from Trinidad, which is not apart of the OECS.

Arthur said, “It has not been unknown that when OECS countries have had industries carved out for them, that OECS countries then fracture the spirit of unity in the OECS by not buying those goods from the OECS, but going outside the OECS and buying those goods.”

Arthur said Antigua was one of the principals in this act of disunity.

He further said if Antigua wants Caricom to benefit, the country needs to stop those kinds of actions and be faithful to fellow association members.

He said disunity among the OECS defeated the purpose of an Article that was conceived to benefit the region.

In responding to Humphrey’s concern about establishment of trade rights he said, “If you all are asking us to carve out certain industries for yourself, and you apply for them, then you can’t come and tell the rest of the Caribbean that it suits one person’s interest to buy from somebody else rather than buy from yourself and then hold me responsible for the fact that economies fail.

“You got to stay the course,” Arthur said.

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