It seems not everyone thinks Caribbean regional integration is dead. The prime minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart, state that he believes the regional integration movement is, “alive and well”. He expressed this last thursday (April 11th 2013) to Greneda’s prime minister, Dr Keith Mitchell, during a courtesy call. Stuart stated that, “the perception that the [regional integration] process has slowed, I think, may have more to do with the fact that the stakeholder countries have had to become more inward looking as they deal with the economic challenges from the global economic downturn.”
Furthermore, Stuart believes that regional integration is being treated synonymously with single market and single economy, and its success is being measured only in such arenas. Somewhat contradictory to this expressed sentiment, Stuart reaffirmed Barbados’s commitment to CSME, the CARICOM single market and economy.
Mitchell expressed his view that the region needs to implement an outward looking perspective, as to attract foreign investments.
Throughout the wide range of topics, both prime ministers agreed that the issues of Food security is a most serious and immediate issue. Stuart said, “”The time has come for us to do something concrete because the truth is, none of us can afford the food import bills that we currently have. We import here in Barbados over half billion dollars in food, [and] to me, that does not make sense. We have to get our agriculture sector going and we have to see who can do what best and make sure we maximise and optimise the potential of each territory…. We have no choice… Food security is a critical issue for all of us in the region… [because] a region that does not feed itself is an enslaved region.” Mitchell offered a strategy in which countries in the region coordinated their agricultural industries so as to avoid overlap and decide which crops were best suited for each country to produce.