St. Kitts and Nevis - Foreign policy



Another top priority for Douglas' government was to continue to boost the island's exports. To this end, he supported the country's membership in the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), a regional trade organization that regulates trade within the Caribbean and negotiates with other countries and trading blocs. Douglas, along with the other heads of government of the CARICOM countries, met in Guyana in July 1995 to discuss prospects for further integration of the economies of the region. The prospect of being left to languish by the consolidation of other regional trading blocs, like NAFTA-North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (United States, Canada, and Mexico), Mercosur-Southern Cone Common Market (Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay), and the Central American Common Market-CACM, prompted the leaders to agree upon the creation of a single market in which all countries could trade freely with one another without any tariff barriers. Douglas and his counterparts agreed on short-term measures, such as eliminating the mass of red tape that restricts trade between CARICOM members, reducing the common external tariff from 35% to 30%, and allowing the free movement of the population among countries. Plans call for the latter provision to apply initially only to graduates of regional universities, as Douglas and others have expressed their hesitation to open their borders completely to those without jobs or skills. Local businesses, however, represented by the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce, have pressed the heads of government to go further, providing work permits when there is a bona fide offer of employment by a regional employer to fill an identified professional or technical vacancy.

St. Kitts and Nevis is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issues a common currency for all members of the ECCU. The ECCB, headquartered in St. Kitts, also manages monetary policy, and regulates and supervises commercial banking activities in its member countries.

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