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'CSME good for insurance industry'

Feb 01, 2006

HEAD of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) Unit in Trinidad, Ambassador Jerry Narace recently told insurance executives that the insurance industry can immediately benefit from the CSME.

"As players in the industry, you can immediately benefit from the arrangements pertaining to the movement of persons wishing to provide a service on a temporary basis in Trinidad and Tobago," he said.

"For example, if you wish to recruit a surveyor from Barbados, handle a risk assessment or claim settlement, such personnel will be regarded as service providers and can move temporarily and work for the contracted period without the need for a work permit," he said.

Narace was addressing a breakfast meeting last week hosted by the Association of Trinidad and Tobago Insurance companies (ATTIC) at the Hilton Trinidad.

In updating the 40-year old Association about the CSME developments, Narace said that issues pertinent to the insurance industry will be mostly dealt with under the Single Economy aspect of the CSME expected to come on stream by 2008.

Narace also delivered a speech on behalf of Trade and Industry Minister Ken Valley in which he told industry members, they are crucial players in the region's financial services sector and under the CSME, they will have even more access to regional markets.

Members of the billion dollar industry also were told of numerous plans to upgrade the financial services sector in T&T and that they should "take a stand in defence of our regional economic position on the world stage."

The insurance industry in T&T comprises some 46 companies and has the largest services contribution to GDP at 11.87 per cent or TT$9.7 billion in 2005, he said.

Narace said that under the CSME insurance "businesses will be able to source capital and the best human resources wherever they may be located in the region, to enhance their competitiveness."

The theme of the meeting was "The CSME's Impact on the Insurance Industry."

Narace spoke of the need to upgrade the regulatory environment of the financial sector to make it more compliant with international norms and added that the Patrick Manning Administration was currently engaged in a process of Financial Sector Reform.

"A key goal of this endeavour is to make Trinidad and Tobago the Pan Caribbean Financial Centre of the Region," he said.

He said given the fact that insurance falls within the financial services, and the draft agreement on this sector at Caricom level has not yet been finalised, in the interim, financial services fall under the purview of the Regulatory Agencies within the individual Caricom States.

He added that T&T had submitted to the Council on Trade and Development (COTED) a proposal for a Register of service providers, which will enable the proper monitoring the entry of service providers across the region.

Narace reiterated that the CSME is designed to bolster regional economic development and allow for stronger participation in the global economy.

"In T&T, we believe the CSME will be a bridgehead into further bilateral agreements with our Latin American neighbours, a portal for deeper penetration into the European Union (EU) markets and a platform for entry into the entire global economy being shaped at the WTO," he added.

He said the region, as members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group (ACP) also is engaged in services negotiations under the proposed Economic Partnerships Agreements (EPAs) with the EU.

Narace said the negotiations with the EPAs was crucial because of greater market access for the region. He noted that a couple of weeks ago Caricom and the Dominican Republic, united under the collective grouping known as Cariforum discussed common areas of negotiations to be undertaken with the EU this month.

He told the group, "simultaneously, the Caricom region forges ahead with its bilateral agreements designed to closer trade ties with our Latin American neighbours.

"The negotiating agenda for 2006 includes completion of services regime with the Dominican Republic, commencing negotiations with MERCOSUR and renegotiation of the Caricom/Venezuela and Caricom-Colombia agreements," he added.

In light of these plans, Narace told participants, "we are on the brink of one of the most vibrant, difficult, and ultimately rewarding periods in the regional economic history."

Irene Medina
Business Express
The Trinidad Express
Wednesday, 1st February, 2006.


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