Montserrat ratifying the OECS Economic Union Treaty a “Work in Progress”

BRADES, Montserrat – Montserrat still has a ways to go before it will be able to join other Member States of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to enforce the Revised Treaty Establishing the OECS Economic Union, which went into effect on Friday, January 21, 2011.

Calling it a “work in progress”, Director of Regional Affairs and Trade Claude Hogan said Montserrat will be in a better position to ratify the Economic Union Treaty once the new constitution comes into force.

The new constitution will make it a “team effort where the UK will work with us” to ratify the treaty,” Hogan explained.

Montserrat will still need to pass the related laws that will allow the island to function as part of the same economic space as the rest of the OECS. This will eliminate many of the barriers which presently exist as it relates to doing business across regional borders.

The Treaty was signed on June 18, 2010 in St. Lucia, during the 51st Meeting of the Authority of Heads of Government of OECS Member States. At that time Heads of Government set themselves the target of January 21, 2010 as the date for the Treaty to commence operation. In order for it to enter into force, four independent Member States were required to ratify the Treaty, indicating by this act, their intention to be bound by the provisions of the agreement.

The OECS Secretariat has confirmed the deposit of instruments of ratification by Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada and Dominica. St. Lucia is expected to submit their instrument this week.

“The Revised Treaty establishes the OECS economic union, making possible the creation of a single financial and economic space within which goods, people and capital move freely, monetary and fiscal policies are harmonized and countries continue to adopt a common approach to trade, health, education and environment, as well as to the development of such critical sectors as agriculture, tourism and energy. Significantly, the Treaty paves the way for the introduction of legislative competence at the regional level, so that Member States of the organisation act in concert to develop and enact legislation in certain areas specified in the Treaty,” says an OECS release.

“The next step for Member States is to give the Revised Treaty of Basseterre Establishing the OECS Economic Union the force of law in their national spheres by an Act of Parliament.”