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May 31, 2000

Belize cements relations with CARICOM

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He came on a mission to resuscitate a relationship that may have been suffering from neglect. But by the time CARICOM Secretary General Edwin Carrington and his 7-member team left the country this afternoon it looked like Belize’s geographic position had been moved at least several hundred miles to the East. This morning Carrington, his deputy Carla Barnett and Prime Minister Said Musa held a press conference to elaborate on the rekindled romance. The Secretary General said that in the 21st century a common market was not enough.

Edwin Carrington, Secretary General, CARICOM

“CARICOM is no longer adequate as an instrument of a common market. We have to move beyond that and heads of government saw this nearly a decade ago, that the way things were moving in the international hemispheric environment, a common market was not an adequate instrument. It was not an effective vessel to carry us into the next stage of development in this region. We need to have a single market and economy, which provide for what CARICOM does not provide, which is not just the free movement of goods, but of services, of skills, of skilled persons, of capital, of freedom to establish business, enterprises, wherever you wish in the community without being discriminated and treated as that famous piece of legislation that calls you an alien.”

“CARICOM is not only about today, it is also about tomorrow. It’s about development, it’s about the future of our young people and so we couldn’t properly design a program and a process without involving them.”

“CARICOM is militant in its support for the territorial integrity of Belize. We think frankly that the issue should not be arising at this time in our existence and as late as the 11th and 12th of May in the U.K./Caribbean Forum in the United Kingdom in London, we got a ringing endorsement of Belize’s right to its sovereign territorial borders and its territorial integrity to be unchallenged by any country.”

Carrington confirmed that Belize will be hosting the 3rd assembly of Caribbean Community Parliamentarians in November. As for Belize’s perennial trade imbalance with the rest of CARICOM, Carrington pointed out that in an enlarged Caribbean region, which included Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, Belize was in easy reach of 30 million consumers out of a total of 34 million…but the Belizean private sector must be energized to take advantage of the opportunities. For his part Prime Minister Musa told journalists that while Belize will take a wait and see approach toward the idea of a single Caribbean currency, his government has already embraced the concept of free movement of skilled labour throughout the region.

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