PM Chairs Inter-Ministerial Meeting on St. Maarten’s Participation in International Organizations

The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams recently chaired a meeting between the Ministries of General and Economic Affairs concerning the synchronizing of St. Maarten’s position on the participation in regional and other organizations and analyzing the obligations and benefits that could be derived from the country’s participation.


There have been ongoing discussions regarding the application for associate membership in Caricom as well as the current plans for participation in the Caribbean Basin Initiative. Especially in the case of the latter, participants are required to show their commitment and adherence to international treaties on integrity and anti-corruption and procedures regarding procurement and competition and copy-right laws. "We also need to have a common position on possible bilateral agreements with other countries. What are our objectives in this regard? What cooperation should be required of Kingdom embassies on St. Maarten’s behalf? These questions are what the technocrats will be analyzing in the coming weeks as we continue to articulate our foreign policy positions," commented the Prime Minister.

Upon attaining its constitutional status as a constituent part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, St. Maarten expressed interest in becoming an Associate member to CARICOM. The Assistant Secretary General of the Caribbean Community responded to St. Maarten’s expression of interest in a letter dated October 29th, 2012 in which he explained that the Community Council of CARICOM established a Technical Working Group (TWG) to develop criteria for Associate Membership of the Community and to review the status of participation of Associate Members. In order to advance its work, the TWG called on the Secretariat to engage the relevant authorities in St. Maarten to determine St. Maarten’s areas of interest in CARICOM. In order to effectively fulfill this task, the Government of Sint Maarten is required to designate a Focal Point to assist the Secretariat which will be put into motion soon. "The Government of St. Maarten attaches great importance to regional cooperation as it is viewed as a tool to assist Caribbean countries in coping with these challenges. To this end, Government has taken up and considers membership in regional organizations that will help with institutional building, provide opportunities for social and economic progress, facilitate transfer of knowledge and best practices, offer technical / financial assistance in specialized areas, and serve domestic goals such as migration, social development, justice and diversification," explained the Prime Minister.

Since 10-10-10, Sint Maarten has requested preferential trade benefits available with the United States based on agreements that were formerly had with the Netherlands Antilles, specifically as it relates to the Caribbean Basin Initiative. The Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) trade preference programs are vital elements in U.S. economic relations with its neighbors in Central America and in the Caribbean. The CBI is intended to facilitate the economic development and export diversification of the Caribbean Basin economies. Initially launched in 1983, through the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA), and substantially expanded in 2000 through the U.S.-Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA), the CBI currently provides beneficiary countries with duty-free access to the U.S. market for most goods. The CBTPA was signed into law in May 2000 and was implemented by Presidential Proclamation in October 2000. It expires on September 30, 2020, or the date, if sooner, on which a free trade agreement as described in legislation enters into force between the United States and a CBTPA beneficiary country. There are currently 17 CBERA beneficiary countries, eight of which are also beneficiaries under CBTPA and St. Maarten is currently applying for membership.