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Consultations on Bermuda’s Caricom membership planned

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David Burt held a post-Throne Speech press conference (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Joining a Caribbean organisation would be “a signal of our deeper integration into the region”, according to David Burt.

In the Throne Speech on Friday, the Government said it would initiate a consultation process over full membership of Caricom — Bermuda has associate membership at present.

At a post-Throne Speech press conference yesterday,the Premier said consultation would now take place on the move, which he said “was something the Government should consider to review to see if it made sense and if it does, to advance that”.

“There are broad benefits in being a full member of Caricom. I think that it is a signal of our deeper integration into the region. I think it could be helpful for us as we continue to advance and develop our institutions,” said Mr Burt.

Asked why he wanted full membership, the Premier said: “I don’t know if it is a question of why do I want full membership.

“I think that it is important that as other jurisdictions are examining the relationship with Caricom, I think that it is perfectly good for Bermuda to go ahead and to do the same and so from that aspect there are a number of institutions that we can participate in as an associate member, but there are also other institutions and discussions that we are unable to participate in as an associate member.

“There are more benefits to being a full member and those are all things that we will discuss and explore throughout the consultative process.”

Pressed on how Bermuda would benefit as a full Caricom member, the Premier added: “I think those are all things that we will certainly discuss through the consultation process, which will certainly happen.

“What I am not trying to do is to get into, I know what The Royal Gazette wants to do, is to start to prejudge.

What is Caricom?

According to its website, the Caribbean Community is a grouping of 20 countries: 15 member states and five associate members. It is home to approximately 16 million citizens, 60 per cent under the age of 30, and from the main ethnic groups of Indigenous Peoples, Africans, Indians, Europeans, Chinese, Portuguese and Javanese.

The community is multilingual, with English as the major language complemented by French and Dutch and variations of these, as well as African and Asian expressions.

Stretching from The Bahamas in the north to Suriname and Guyana in South America, all members and associate members are island states.

While these states are all relatively small, both in terms of population and size, there is also great diversity with regards to geography and population as well as the levels of economic and social development.

“We will engage in broad consultative processes, that is what we will do, and certainly there will be plenty of opportunity for those questions and different things to be explored.”

The Premier said the timeline for the consultation was the current parliamentary year.

“As associate members of Caricom, though we get to attend meetings, we do not get to participate in the decision-making process, that is what full membership entails,” added Mr Burt.

He said there were a number of Caricom treaties countries could sign up to and “those are all things that would have to be discussed with the UK Government and our Caricom partners”.

Bermuda was given a Letter of Entrustment by the UK Government allowing associate Caricom membership and it would need another Letter allowing full membership, something which had been given to Montserrat.

Asked if he had spoken to Government House, the Premier said: “The Governor clearly had advance sight of the Throne Speech, and those particular matters, but these are things that have been discussed with other overseas territories as well as with the UK Government regarding their path forward.

“But we will conduct our consultation process first to find out whether this is a direction that we wish to ultimately take.”

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Published November 07, 2023 at 7:57 am (Updated November 07, 2023 at 7:57 am)

Consultations on Bermuda’s Caricom membership planned

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