What Is the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)

The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is an intergovernmental organization that promotes economic integration and trade cooperation among its member states in the Eastern Caribbean.

Key Takeaways

  • The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States is an economic union comprising 11 member states in the Eastern Caribbean.
  • Seven states are protocol members, meaning they enjoy the benefits of free movement of people, capital, and goods, while four are associate members.
  • Eight members share a currency, the Eastern Caribbean Dollar.

Understanding the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)

The OECS was founded on June 18, 1981, when the original seven members signed the Treaty of Basseterre in the capital city of St. Kitts and Nevis, for which the agreement is named. In 2010, this treaty was revised to establish an economic union, removing or reducing trade and customs barriers and allowing goods, people, and capital to move more freely.

The protocol members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) are:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Commonwealth of Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Montserrat
  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • St. Vincent and The Grenadines

The associate members of the OECS are:

  • The British Virgin Islands
  • Anguilla
  • Martinique
  • Guadeloupe

As an economic union, the OECS is a single market and customs union where goods, people, and capital are free to move. The organization also works to unify monetary policy and policies related to government taxes and revenue, in addition to harmonizing their approach toward trade, health, education, the environment, agriculture, tourism, and energy.

Eight members share a single currency, the Eastern Caribbean Dollar. They are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent and The Grenadines. The British Virgin Islands use the United States dollar, while Martinique and Guadeloupe, as overseas departments of France, use the euro.

Geographically, these islands form a near-continuous archipelago across the Caribbean Sea, known as the Lesser Antilles.

Benefits of OECS Membership

Citizens of protocol members are free to travel and work across borders without restrictions. They can do so with a passport, though a driver's license, national ID card, voter registration card, and social security card are also accepted. To live in another protocol member state, a person is not required to demonstrate means of support. They can live and work in another protocol member state indefinitely.

All protocol member states are also members of the larger grouping, the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), and its initiative the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME). Policies of the OECS are coordinated to align with members' participation in the CSME. Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands are also associate members of CARICOM.

In addition to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, which governs monetary policy and the Eastern Caribbean dollar, the OECS recognizes two other institutions: the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority. In addition, the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority is the regulatory body that oversees the telecommunications sector in the region.