LAST WEEK’S meeting of Caricom leaders in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, was a reminder of the benefits of this regional body and of the need to tackle threats to deeper regional integration. Many important matters came out of the meeting relating to a wide range of areas, all with clear implications for Trinidad and Tobago.
Significantly, heads of government approved a counter-terrorism strategy and agreed to table related legislation by July 4.
This means such legislation must be laid in our Parliament by no later than that deadline. Additionally, in terms of crime more generally, leaders further agreed to strengthen collaboration with international partners to build capacity.
They mandated the Council for National Security and Law Enforcement (CONSLE) and the Caricom Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) to create an intra-regional task force to examine and suggest innovative regional solutions to combat the rise in crime. There are clear benefits for both matters being addressed regionally. Terrorism is a global risk which cross borders easily. And while individual islands have different histories, cultures and values, we also share many similarities. Teamwork could engender creative solutions that would elude individual action.
The unanimous repudiation of the inclusion of certain member states – including Trinidad and Tobago – in the list of “non-cooperative tax jurisdictions” published by the European Union Council in December 2017 as well as other unilateral processes which labelled member States as “tax havens” was also another instance of how we work better together. The processes by which these damaging designations were arrived at were one-sided and ignored tremendous work done already to conform to requirements of organisations such as the Financial Action Task Force. It is heartening to see the entire region taking on this matter as a unified block, significantly bolstering our chances of being heard and engaged with.
The attempts to tackle the problems bedevilling Caribbean cricket are also continuing at a slow and steady pace, with Caricom leaders deciding to take the matter to the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Legal opinion suggesting Caribbean cricket is a public good may not be enough to justify any form of direct intervention with the affairs of bodies such as Cricket West Indian (CWI) which fall under the ICC. Again, dialogue with ICC is a matter best handled collectively.
Still, threats to Caribbean unity continue to brew with yet another trade dispute between Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica looming. The question of alleged dumping of TT flour in the Jamaican market is a matter for the relevant commission to preside over.
Be that as it may, this latest dispute must not be allowed to overshadow the fact that generally, we work better together as a united block.