Castries, St Lucia — The history of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) will take a new turn on Wednesday when the French territory of Martinique signs on as an associate member, increasing the nine-member grouping to ten.
The historic signing of Martinique as an associate member of the OECS will take place in Forte de France, Martinique, during the opening ceremony of the 60th meeting of the OECS Authority.
The agenda for the 60th meeting of the OECS Authority will include an update on the implementation of the OECS Economic Union, the free circulation of goods, and issues on sports and healthy lifestyles. Martinique’s pending membership of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States follows a period of negotiations after the Regional Council of Martinique submitted a formal application for associate membership in the OECS with the full support/endorsement of the French government.
In November 2013, the then OECS director general addressed the Regional Assembly in Martinique after which the assembly unanimously voted in favour of Martinique’s membership of the OECS. Since then the OECS Commission has been treating Martinique effectively as an associate member and the French region has already been attending regional meetings on matters such as health.
The current OECS director general, Dr Didacus Jules, described the pending event on February 4, 2015, in Forte de France as a very historic moment: “The involvement of Martinique in the OECS; while there are limitations because of their status in relation to France, opens up great potential and certainly widens the demographics from an economic perspective. We have seen the relationship grow between Martinique and Saint Lucia and between Guadeloupe and Dominica for example. What that does now is widen this to the whole OECS. The use of Martinique as a tertiary health facility centre for the OECS is something under discussion so there are a lot of opportunities. We are very concerned about not just ensuring growth in the economies of the OECS but growth with equity. It’s not enough to just grow the economy if you are growing it and only the existing players benefit, it has to be the type of growth that leads to a widening of opportunity for smaller persons; trickle-down effect; a spread of the benefits and community tourism we think will do particularly well with the engagement of Martinique and Guadeloupe. So we are expecting that this will yield great benefits in terms of weekend travel, bed and breakfast arrangements, community sporting activities, and so on.”
The 60th OECS Authority will also be updated on the work programme for the OECS Commission.