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Bermuda not considering open border with Caricom

David Burt, the Premier, meets Baroness Patricia Scotland, the Commonwealth Secretary-General (Photograph supplied)

David Burt, the Premier, said Bermuda is not contemplating the opening of its borders, despite Caribbean Community plans to allow free movement among member states.

Mr Burt, who travelled last week to Guyana to take part in the 46th Regular Meeting of Caricom Heads of Government, said that there were discussions about freedom of movement of citizens of the member states, among other topics.

However, he added: “It would be incorrect to conclude that full membership means freedom of movement for citizens of other member states to Bermuda.

“We recognise that this is a topical matter here at home, and to ensure clarity, freedom of movement does not automatically follow full membership. In fact, it has been stated on numerous occasions that many full members of Caricom do not participate in freedom of movement.

“Furthermore, specific agreements, negotiations and protocols are required, and it is not something the Government of Bermuda is contemplating as Bermuda is too small to have open borders.”

Mr Burt took part in a series of meetings last week, which he described as “productive and beneficial”, adding that they had been used to progress important agenda items for Bermuda.

The HOG meeting, which was held from February 25 to 28, focused on a number of items, including regional security, the single market and economy, food and nutrition security, climate resilience and energy security.

The island has associate membership in the 15-member bloc, but is pressing for full membership. The Government recently received a Letter of Entrustment from Britain granting it permission to open negotiations with Caricom on the issue.

A communiqué posted on the Caricom website at the conclusion of the summit said that members “agreed on urgent steps to expedite objectives” for a single market.

The communiqué added: “These include intensified work towards free movement, speeding up reviews to facilitate harmonisation of certain business laws and mutual recognition.”

Mr Burt also met Baroness Patricia Scotland, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, and other Commonwealth officials.

A government spokeswoman said that matters discussed during the Guyana bilateral included the Commonwealth Climate Finance Hub and technical assistance for Overseas Territories via the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation.

Mr Burt said: “Baroness Scotland and I had a very engaging and productive discussion on matters related to Bermuda. I expressed the desire for our insurance industry to participate fully in the Commonwealth Climate Finance Hub.

“The Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub assists small and vulnerable member states in gaining access to climate finance. We believe that Commonwealth member states will benefit from Bermuda’s growing expertise in climate finance.

“I was grateful for the commitment from Baroness Scotland for Commonwealth officials to work with Bermuda to ensure that our financial services industry has access to this vital hub.”

Mr Burt added that the importance of access to Commonwealth technical assistance and support was also discussed.

“This support could provide long or short-term expertise, undertaking research and feasibility studies, or technical advice on targeted capacity building,” he said.

“I was encouraged by Baroness Scotland’s willingness for the Overseas Territories to access the significant range of technical support offered to Commonwealth nations.”

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Published March 04, 2024 at 7:54 am (Updated March 04, 2024 at 7:54 am)

Bermuda not considering open border with Caricom

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