The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)

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JUNE 18, 1981 The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) came into being when seven Eastern Caribbean countries signed a treaty (the Treaty of Basseterre) agreeing to cooperate and promote unity and solidarity among the Members. OECS is the successor of the Leewards Islands’ political organization known as the West Indies Associated StatesThe OECS is an International Inter-governmental Organisation dedicated to regional integration in the Eastern Caribbean.

Treaty became known as the Treaty of Basseterre, named in honour of the capital city of St. Kitts and Nevis where it was signed. The founding members were Antigua & Barbuda, St. Kitts & Nevis, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Grenada and Montserrat. The British Virgin Islands and Anguilla became Associate members in 1984(November 22) and 1998 respectively.

Martinique became an Associate member on April 9, 2019, and Guadeloupe joined as an Associate member on March 14, 2019.The administrative body of the OECS is the Commission, which is based in Castries, the capital of Saint Lucia.The 1981 Treaty was upgraded and replaced on June 18 2010 creating an economic union which is an agreement between countries where barriers to trade are reduced or removed for a single market with a customs union.

The revised treaty established a single financial and economic space where goods, people and capital move freely; and allows for the harmonisation of monetary and governmental policies relating to taxes and revenue. The countries of this economic union continue to adopt a common approach to trade, health, education and the environment, as well as the development of critical sectors such as agriculture, tourism and energy.Provisions of the TreatyThe provisions of the Economic Union Treaty prior to its ratification were expected to include:

  • The free movement of goods and trade in services within the OECS
  • Free movement of labour by December 2007
  • The free movement of capital (via support of the money and capital market programme of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank)
  • A regional Assembly of Parliamentarians
  • A common external tariff.

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