St. Maarten can use Kingdom infrastructure regionally

POSTED: 11/23/12 12:56 PM

St. Maarten – Recently back from the Ibero-American Summit that was held in Spain from November 14 to 18, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams believes that her participation has further strengthened her position that St. Maarten ought to look at Central and South America as areas, outside of Europe, worthy of partnerships.
The Ibero-American Conference established in 1991 and is a yearly meeting of the heads of government of the Spanish and Portuguese speaking nations of Europe and the Americas. The Kingdom of the Netherlands has an associate observer’s status. Wescot-Williams led the Kingdom delegation.
“The relationships between Europe and its former colonies were much different than they are today. Spain in particular is facing some major economic difficulties,” the prime minister said, adding that since Brazil has emerged as a leading development nation the dimensions for the discussions in the Ibero-American Conference have changed.
“In many countries the Dutch government has embassies including Brazil which St. Maarten is looking at from a tourism and economic point. We should make use of the embassies and the networking that is available because of the Kingdom,” she noted.
Wescot-Williams said that’s he was proud to lead the Kingdom delegation and took the opportunity to highlight the uniqueness of St. Maarten.
“We should continue to highlight the diversity of the Dutch Kingdom and naturally I had to give a pitch for St. Maarten. I believe that little St. Maarten can serve as an example for bigger countries of different administrations working together in the good of their people.”
The prime minister report on the trip to Spain was given while at Wednesday’s Council of Ministers press briefing.
Regional grouping the Caribbean Community (Caricom) has responded to St. Maarten’s request to become an associate member. Two weeks ago the Caricom Secretariat, located in Guyana, requested that St. Maarten provide them with information on which specific councils and commissions the country would be interested in working with.
The Prime Minister said that government is still formulating its response but is pleased to see progress being made with its request.
“Because Caricom is going through some organizational changes it took a while for us to get a response from them. Caricom being what it is, I believe that it is just right for us to focus on some of the councils where St. Maarten’s interests are priorities,” she added.
In February, St. Maarten’s request was put a working group headed by St. Lucia to specifically discuss a further clarification of the term ‘associate membership’ and the historical role St. Maarten has played in its interaction with Caricom nationals.
The current list of associate members includes Anguilla, Turks & Caicos, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands and Bermuda.
Caricom has among its objectives an improved standard of living and work for countries, expansion of trade and economic relations and to compete on the international market at a higher level as one trading block.

In 2001, the Caricom heads of government signed a revised Treaty of Chaguaramas to bring about the practical realization of a single market and economy (CSME) and its highest court, the Caribbean Court of Justice. Within the revised treaty, Article 231 states that the “conference may admit any Caribbean state or territory to associate membership of the community on such terms and conditions as conference thinks fit.”

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