Thursday, July 20, 2017 — Over 20 Caribbean countries gathered at the 10th Caribbean Plant Health Directors Forum in the Dominican Republic last week where the OECS was awarded in recognition of its role in plant protection initiatives leading to enhanced agricultural development, trade and innovation in the region.
The Caribbean is known for its vital and diverse agriculture and natural resources, and protecting them from potentially devastating invasive pests and diseases is critical to the health and prosperity of the region.
Accordingly, the Caribbean Plant Health Directors (CPHD) has continuously strived to unify plant health safeguarding strategies in the region while fostering the exchange of technical information, the transfer of technologies and methods, and the harmonization of plant protection and agricultural trade management approaches.
The 10th CPHD Forum was held from July 11 to 13 in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The meeting gathered representatives from over 20 countries and territories along with several partner organizations.
Officials had two-day intense discussions aiming at bolstering the ability of member countries to identify, exclude, and respond to pests and diseases that threaten regional agriculture and natural resources and to resolve issues that might impede the trade of Caribbean agricultural products regionally and internationally.
During the meeting the OECS Commission received the Greater Caribbean Safeguarding GCSI award 2017 in recognition of initiatives and innovations that make significant contributions to furthering the goal of safeguarding the region’s agriculture and plant resources. The Commission was represented by George Alcee, Programme Officer – Agriculture.
‘’Receiving an award at that level is a great achievement for the Commission and the region. It is a recognition of all the endeavours which were undertaken to safeguard the Eastern Caribbean from pest and invasive species.
“We still continue to work to enhance trade and strengthen capacity of the quarantine infrastructure and border control agencies to achieve our goal. I am thankful to the European Union for their support under the 10th EDF which allowed us to provide that level of capacity building to reduce the entry and spread of pests and invasive species in the region.
“The USDA is also currently speaking to the OECS to offer support to the Shipping initiative ’’ said Mr. Alcee.
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About the OECS
The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) came into being on June 18th 1981, when seven Eastern Caribbean countries signed a treaty agreeing to cooperate with each other and promote unity and solidarity among the Members. The Treaty became known as the Treaty of Basseterre, so named in honour of the capital city of St. Kitts and Nevis where it was signed.
As the islands gained their independence from Britain it became evident that there was need for a more formal arrangement to assist with their development efforts. So it was that the OECS was established. The OECS is now a nine member grouping comprising Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines, with Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands as associate members.
A Revised Treaty was signed on June 18th, 2010 in St. Lucia establishing the OECS as an Economic Union. This means that the OECS now functions as a single financial and economic space within which goods, people and capital move freely; monetary and fiscal policies are harmonized; and countries continue to adopt a common approach to trade, health, education and environment, as well as to the development of such critical sectors as energy, agriculture and tourism.
The OECS is administered by a central Secretariat located on Morne Fortune, Castries, Saint Lucia. The Secretariat is headed by a Director General who is responsible to the Authority of Heads of Government of the nine Member States. Over the years several subsidiary and autonomous institutions have been created. The Islands share a single currency, the Eastern Caribbean Dollar ($2.70 ECD = 1 USD). The operation of the currency is overseen by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the monetary authority for the seven OECS governments and the government of Anguilla (The British Virgin Islands uses the US Dollar as their de facto currency). The Islands also share a common Supreme Court: The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, with its two divisions, the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
The OECS is currently implementing several initiatives geared towards operationalising the OECS Economic Union, supported in part via a project funded by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund entitled: Economic Integration and Trade for the OECS project. This project has provided resources to help implement Sailclear and the joint promotion of OECS destinations at international boat shows.
For more information about the work of the OECS Commission visit: www.oecs.org