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Dominican Republic to join CARICOM?

Caribbean360, Barbados

Dominican Republic to join CARICOM?

11 May 2009

KINGSTON, Jamaica/The Dominican Republic, which is already linked to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as a part of the CARIFORUM which recently signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Europe, has resubmitted its application to join the 15-member grouping and regional leaders seem willing to welcome the country into the fold.

In fact, they may discuss the matter as early as the July 1st to 4th CARICOM Heads of Government meeting in Guyana.

Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs Minister Kenneth Baugh gave confirmation of the DR’s resubmission and the grouping’s consideration of it over the weekend.

"They have renewed their application so this is now under consideration. We are looking at the details of the implications of that in terms of what it means for training, our economies and other kinds of relationship within the context of them being a member of CARICOM," he said at a press conference on Saturday, at the end of the two-day 12th CARICOM Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR).

"There are a lot of issues to be addressed in the context of this relationship with the Dominican Republic, but the general spirit is yes. It is one of welcoming the Dominican Republic."

A communiqué issued after the meeting added that "the matter would be considered further at the upcoming meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government in July 2009".

"It’s a further step in expanding the Caribbean...Expanding CARICOM into other countries is a work in progress, it is an ongoing affair," added Baugh, who is the new COFCOR Chairman.

He noted that there is already a CARICOM-Dominican Republic free trade arrangement in place and both sides also make up CARIFORUM.

Meantime, the leaders at the COFCOR meeting endorsed the proposal emanating from the Fifth Summit of the Americas for the establishment of a hemispheric development fund for Haiti.

It was also agreed at the COFCOR meeting that CARICOM leaders will meet in Trinidad on May 24th to discuss the the impact of and response to the global economic crisis.