What Is the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME)?

The Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) is an initiative of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) that would integrate member-states into a single economic unit. The end result would be the free movement of capital, services, technology and skilled professionals within the region.

The broader goal of Caribbean economic unification would be to help member economies—many of which are small and still developing—compete with larger rivals in the global market.

Key Takeaways

  • The Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) is an initiative of the 20 member states and associates that make up Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM).
  • The CSME would would integrate all member-states into a single economic unit.
  • The goal is allow for free movement of capital, services, technology and skilled professionals within the region.
  • It is hoped CSME will give member countries a stronger footing in an increasingly competitive and globalized market.

Understanding the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME)

The Caribbean Free Trade Association formed in 1965 provided a framework for the removal of tariffs and other barriers to trade within the region. In 1989, the CARICOM heads of government agreed to further economic integration among Caribbean nations in the form of a common market that could help the region thrive amid globalization.

As the world grew more interconnected, many of the Caribbean's small island nations found themselves increasingly competing among themselves. By combining into a single cohesive economic unit, member countries could focus on their competitive advantages based on the resources they possess, rather than competing among themselves to be the market leader on certain products.

In addition, the CSME aims to reduce trade and professional restrictions among member nations. The fundamental aspects of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy include:

  1. Consumer Affairs
  2. Competition Policy
  3. Social Security
  4. Contingent Rights
  5. Immigration Arrangements for Free Movement of Persons
  6. Administrative Arrangements for Commercial Establishment
  7. Government Procurement
  8. Trade and Competitiveness in CARICOM

CARICOM started implementation of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy in 2006. The 2007-08 Financial Crisis slowed progress toward full implementation, though officials in 2011 denied suggestions the program had been put "on pause" due to a lack of political will. In the meantime, CARICOM members have worked toward harmonizing their tax systems, regulatory environments, and other general government policies.

CARICOM has 15 full member countries and five associate members. They are:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Jamaica
  • Montserrat
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Kits and Nevis
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Suriname
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Anguilla (associate member)
  • Bermuda (associate member)
  • British Virgin Islands (associate member)
  • Cayman Islands (associate member)
  • Turks and Caicos Islands (associate member)
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Forex Market Basics

When fully completed, the CSME will succeed CARICOM and will allow for free intra-regional movement of capital and labor among member-states. Additionally, member-states will share monetary and fiscal policies, and businesses operating in the economic union will have access to a larger market. 

This will help to maximize the productive capacity of the nations of the Caribbean as well as help to diversify the range of markets in which goods and services will be traded.