PHILIPSBURG:--- On Tuesday 14th September, Member of Parliament Ludmila Duncan sent a letter to the Prime Minister requesting information on and seeking support regarding the possibility of St. Maarten joining the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) as an associate member. “This is the worst economic and health crisis our people have faced so far, however, it is also the perfect time for St. Maarten to seek out new and impactful relationships and partnerships, especially within the region. The OECS would be the perfect place to start,” stated the MP.
The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is an international inter-governmental organization dedicated to promoting economic integration and trade cooperation among its member states in the Eastern Caribbean. The OECS comprises eleven member states with Guadeloupe being the latest to join as an associate member in 2019.
“By becoming an associate member of this economic union and adopting the organization’s common approach to health, education, trade, the environment, and energy, we would be able to receive some much needed technical assistance, knowledge, and a variety of resources to grow critical sectors. Right now St. Maarten needs to seriously develop a local agriculture industry, revitalize our tourism industry and create new public assistance programs for those in need,” noted Duncan.
In her letter to Government, the MP asked a number of questions including whether the Government was open to engaging with the OECS by sending a mission to discuss possible membership. Duncan also inquired about the cost and feasibility of membership at this time as well as any information on what the process would entail. Duncan also informed the Government that she has already started to build relationships with OECS leadership and other key persons within the region.
In 2017, 30 young entrepreneurs from eight OECS member states (Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts, and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, and the Grenadines, and Martinique) were issued awards for their innovative businesses via the OECS Youth Empowerment Strategy. “There are so many development programs and projects for the youth, entrepreneurs, farmers, policymakers and more, that will come with membership. I also believe that we will finally begin to strategically reposition St. Maarten in the region as a force to be reckoned with, in addition to opening up an array of new social and economic opportunities for our people,” Duncan added.
“I believe that it is time to seek OECS membership and begin to engage our brothers and sisters within the region as we rebuild our country’s economy and create new ways to further St. Maarten’s development,” concluded the MP.