By Liz Rahaman

Twenty-five years after they signed legislation that gave birth to the Treaty of Basseterre, the Prime Ministers of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), are expected to ink a Declaration of Intent to form a new economic union among the nine member states to replace the Basseterre Treaty born on June 18, 1981.

The new Treaty, which is to be ratified next year, would provide impetus for deeper integration among the members of the OECS, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Montserrat, Grenada, Commonwealth of Dominica, British Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda and Anguilla.

Other activities to be held during the 25th anniversary celebrations from June 18 are an Ecumenical Service at the St. George’s Anglican Church, the official opening ceremony at the East Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), the unfurling of the OECS flag, a trade show, meetings with development partners, a 10K run on Nevis and a gala dinner.

The celebrations are held under the theme, “Building Through Integration, Building for Success: Youth and the Community,”

Among the highlights of the planned activities is a three-day trade exhibition dubbed, “The Best of the OECS” to be held at he White Dome Marriott Hotel from June 21 to 23.

The Export Development Unit (EDU) of the OECS has confirmed approximately 30 buyers mainly in the tourism/hospitality and distribution sectors.

The Unit expects just over 50 businesses from around the sub-region, all by invitation, to set up booths.

The three-day event includes a two-day workshop for participating exhibitors and buyers to focus on related issues coming out of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Areas for discussion include trade negotiations at the regional and international level, marketing opportunities for traders and the Cricket World Cup 2007.

A statement from the EDU outlined the tourism/hospitality sector is being specifically targeted as it prepares for the World Cup.  “The refurbishing of existing hotel plant, construction of new rooms, an anticipated influx of visitors, are expected to offer a significant market opportunity for producers in the food and beverage, furniture, garment, art and craft and music sectors.”

The EDU stated that it would facilitate the interfacing of the producers with the buyers and negotiate opportunities for entry of products and services into the wider Caribbean markets.

Over the last five years, the EDU has assisted over 200 companies from around the nine member states at various level of technical assistance in management enhancement, product development, quality and market research and product promotion.

It has confirmed that several of the companies are now ready to enter the regional and international markets.

Listed among the six objectives of the OECS is to promoted co-operation among member states.

The other objectives are to promote unity and solidarity and to defend territorial integrity and independence; to assist States to realize their obligations and responsibilities to the international community; to achieve the fullest possible level of harmonization of foreign policies, to adopt common positions on issues; to promote economic integration among Members and to pursue these purposes through its respective institutions y agreement and common action.