Belize is one step closer to an innovative National Public Awareness & Promotional strategy on the CARICOM Single Market following a Workshop involving 20 private, public sector and civil society representatives who created awareness building solutions on Friday, November 28 at the Belize Biltmore. The development of a Public Awareness and Promotional Programme was a recommendation of the National Plan of Action for Belize 2013 under component 300 of the CARICOM Trade and Competitiveness Project (CTCP) which seeks to widen the scope of participation by stakeholders and beneficiaries in the process of decision-making.
The one day workshop, branded ‘Opportunity Belize’ was hosted by the Ministry of Trade, Investment, Promotion, Private Sector Development and Consumer Protection, which has lead responsibility for the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy in Belize. Using the Communication for Development (C4D) strategy, the workshop involved small group brainstorming of stakeholder assessments and creative communications initiatives from participants.
Participants made presentations on their solutions in Plenary further to rigorous discussions among the entire group. At the end of discussions participants submitted creative ideas designed to increase awareness of Belizeans regarding their rights to work, travel and do business among 12 other participating CARICOM Member States who are participating in the CARICOM Single Market. Solutions were brainstormed under various regimes of the Single Market, each representing significant opportunities for Belizeans and the Belizean economy. These include: The right to free movement of skills and travel; free movement of goods; free movement of services and the right of establishment (of businesses).
Trade Economist, Tricia Gideon, whose presentation focused on the Single Market reminded participants of the benefits and opportunities to be accessed by Belizeans under the Single Market, noting that while Belize had registered increased trade and income with CARICOM partners, more Belizeans need to access other regimes related to travel, employment as wage earners and service providers and by establishing business in other CARICOM territories. She pointed out that awareness of the provisions, access points and opportunities was still very low among Belizeans ,and that the solutions brainstormed at the Workshop would help to increase awareness and participation.
Right Angle Imaging Consultant, Gillian Scott who facilitated the C4D workshop said the participation of a wide cross section of Belizean society would help to identify the best possible solutions owned by Belizeans and capable of connecting culturally and socially with everyday Belizean reality. The consulting group is charged with developing a comprehensive, integrated, sustainable communication strategy based on the inputs of workshop participants, desk research and consultations. The Strategy, which is scheduled for submission in mid December and will be implemented by the national focal point Ministry in partnership with interest groups, is part of a project, entitled “Consultancy to improve Information Flows within the CSME”. The project aims to increase the number and types of information channels promoting the CARICOM Single Market in CARICOM Member States.
The project, executed by the CARICOM Single Market and Economy Unit, and funded by the Government of Canada is now underway in Jamaica, Belize, Guyana, Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada. Other activities planned under the current project include AccessCSME – The Workplace Edition – a public education series on the Single Market targeting Government Ministries, private sector and civil society groups. This commences on December 1 in Belmopan.
Workshops targeting teachers, media and spokespersons and ‘nuts an bolt’ content on the Single Market for csmeonline.org are also components of the consultancy. Participants of the one day Workshop were drawn from Customs and Excise Department, Belize Agricultural Health Authority, Citrus Growers Association, BELTRAIDE, National Trade Union Congress Board, the Ministry of Education, Belize Bureau of Standards, Programme for Belize, Saint John College Junior College, Belize Tourism Board, Income Tax Department, Department of Environment, Stratagen Belize, Belize Press Office, Public Service Union, Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Labour, and Belize Coalition of Service Providers.