The Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) was organized in 1973 as the result of the Treaty of Chaguaramas (Trinidad) and replaced the Caribbean Free Trade Association. CARICOM works to strengthen the integration of its member nations in both economic and noneconomic spheres of activity. Economic integration of member countries is sought through the Common Market while activity in the noneconomic sphere includes coordination of foreign policy and cooperation in various fields of social and human endeavor.

In 1997 members of CARICOM included: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas (member of the Community but not the Common Market), Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands (granted associate membership in 1991), Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands (granted associate membership in 1991). Observer nations include: Anguilla, Aruba, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti (limited status), Mexico, the Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.

Many of these Caribbean nations achieved sovereignty in the 1960s and 1970s. Although they obtained political freedom, their economies were shackled with single-crop agricultural practices, undiversified production, economic dependence on foreign industrial powers, an imbalance of raw material exports and finished product imports, and weak regional ties. It became apparent to the regional states that the Caribbean Free Trade Association (founded in 1968) needed to be replaced by an organization that embraced a common market and economic integration philosophy. Incentives for the new organization came from Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad. By 1974 all previous Caribbean Free Trade Association members had joined CARICOM.

One of the major goals of CARICOM is to enhance economic integration via market forces. The Common Market is an integral part of this effort. The Common Market promotes trade liberalization by working to remove duties, licensing arrangements, quotas and other tariff and nontariff barriers. To help achieve these objectives CARICOM has instituted a number of procedures including the Rules of Origin, which certify the eligibility of regional products; the Common External Tariff, which seeks to promote production by mandating low tariffs on capital goods and raw materials and higher tariffs on finished products; the Common Protective Policy, which protects specific regional industries; and the Agricultural Marketing Protocol and Oils and Fats Agreement, which attempts to stabilize the volatile trade in primary commodities by providing guaranteed markets and prices.

CARICOM also operates in many noneconomic spheres of activity through functional cooperation. CARICOM offers diverse services, including meteorological information, hurricane insurance, nutrition and health care, and education and job training.

The members of CARICOM coordinate their defense and foreign policy programs through the Heads of Government Conference and the Standing Committee of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense Policy. CARICOM signatories believe their international bargaining power is enhanced because of this arrangement.

The final decision-making authority of CARICOM is the Heads of Government Conference. Each member nation has one vote on the conference, which meets annually, and unanimity is required on major decisions and legislation. The conference also concludes treaties, disburses funds, and interacts with other international bodies.

The Common Market Council of Ministers is comprised of a minister of government appointed by each respective member state. The council is responsible for the functioning of the Common Market and resolving any internal problems that may arise.

The Caribbean Community Secretariat is responsible for daily operations. The secretariat's obligation is to the region and not any individual member. While the secretariat has no real policy-making authority its broad range of operations provides for a de facto dynamism within CARICOM. A list of the secretariat's responsibilities include: servicing the community and its respective committees, executing decisions made at higher administrative levels, and conducting economic and functional cooperation studies and analyses. The secretariat is also responsible for many ongoing activities such as: trade relations; coordination of economic policies; foreign and community relations; and financial planning, accounting, and reporting.

CARICOM has many associate institutions including the Caribbean Development Bank; the Caribbean Council of Legal Education, the Caribbean Meteorological Organization, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.

[ Michael Knes ]


Caribbean Community (CARICOM). "Caribbean Community (CARICOM)." Georgetown, Guyana: Caribbean Community, 1996. Available from .

Caribbean Community (CARICOM). "Caribbean Community (CARICOM)." Georgetown, Guyana: Caribbean Community, 1997. Available from .

Caribbean Community Secretariat. "About CARICOM." Georgetown, Guyana: Caribbean Community Secretariat, 1997. Available from .

Erisman, H. Michael. Pursuing Postdependency Politics: South South Relations in the Caribbean. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1989.

Library of Congress. Federal Research Division. Country Studies. Appendix C: "Islands of the Commonwealth Caribbean." Washington: Library of Congress, 1997. Available from .

Ramsaran, Ramesh. The Commonwealth Caribbean in the World Economy. London: Macmillan, 1989.

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