Belize gets frontline employees ready to facilitate greater access to the CSME

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The ace team from Belize’s focal point Ministry for the CSME delivers well received presentation on the Single Market. From left Denise Swan, Adriene Mendez and Milagro Matus

The Belizean government last week continued specially tailored educational sessions on the benefits, roles and responsibilities of key Government agencies and private sector groups in helping Belizeans secure their right to work, travel and do business in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.

Dubbed AccessCSME – The Workplace Edition, the initiative is being coordinated by the Ministry of Trade, Investment, Promotion, Private Sector Development and Consumer Protection in partnership with the CARICOM Secretariat. It is funded by the Government of Canada under the CARICOM Trade and Competitiveness Project (CTCP) Component 300.

A worksite meeting for the Ministry of Social Security which takes place on 10 December 2014, is a follow on from the 10 government ministries and departments plus private sector groups that were visited last week, during the period 1-5 December and addressed by a team from the Trade Directorate.

Presentations to these meetings focused on identifying the legally defensible rights of Belizeans to access the five regimes in the CSME, access points for application and registration in Belize, the roles of the various groups in facilitating access and grievance procedures if those rights are violated. All Belizeans, just like CARICOM nationals from other countries that participate in the CSME, have the right to free movement of skills, free movement of services, free movement of goods, free movement of capital and the right of establishment – across 12 other participating CARICOM nations. In turn, Belize also grants the same level of access to other CARICOM nationals.

Some attention was paid to recent Community decisions which have impacted access to the CSME by CARICOM nationals, including the Shanique Myrie Judgment which established legal precedent for the treatment of nationals at ports of entry into CARICOM Member States. Participants were told that the Caribbean Court of Justice emphasized that a minimum of six months entry must be given to CARICOM nationals traveling within participating Member States.

The team comprising Senior Trade Economist in the Trade Ministry, Mr. Richard Reid (team leader), Trade Economists Denise Swan and Adrianie Mende; and Ms Milagro Matus, underscored that the Department of Immigration is the agency to which Belizean nationals must apply for Skills certificates that qualify them to work in other CARICOM States. The team noted that while CARICOM nationals can apply for the skills certificate through any designated competent authority in any CARICOM country, it is better to apply within the country of origin because of easier access to educational and employment records.

The team also outlined the complaints procedures for CARICOM nationals who believe that they have been unfairly untreated or denied their basic rights under the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which governs the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.

At the workplace session for a combined Belize Chamber of Commerce and Coalition of Service Providers Group on Friday, December 5, Mr. Victor Recinos, Deputy Comptroller of the Customs and Excise department provided comprehensive information to Belizean exporters seeking to export goods into other CARICOM markets including simple tips on accessing the C23 – a form that confirms a good is of CARICOM origin and therefore qualifies for Customs Duty free status.

AccessCSME – The Workplace Edition series is being coordinated by the Belize CSME Focal Point, Ms Tricia Gideon and will be expanded to include select representatives of key public service agencies which serve as the competent authorities for accessing the various provisions in the CSME.
The following organizations participated in last week’s meetings: The Investment Unit and Directorate for Foreign Trade of the Ministry of Trade, Investment Promotion, Private Sector Development and Consumer Protection; Beltraide; Labour Department; Belize Bureau of Standards; ITVET/Ministry of Education; Ministry of Transport; Immigration Department; Customs and Excise Department; Belize Coalition of Service Providers and the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Community Strategic Plan (2015-2019 identifies, among other areas for priority focus , the accelerated implementation of the CSME, building competitiveness and unleashing key economic drivers to transition to growth and to generate employment and the development of human capital.

The first of Belize’s workplace series  was led by Senior Trade Economist Mr Richard Reid. Other presenters were Trade Economists Ms.Denise Swan and Ms. Adrianie Mendez, and Intern Ms Milagro Matus. Belize’s schedule of Worksite meetings ran from December 1 to 5.

Browse our Photo Album of Belize’s AccessCSME – The Workplace Edition series

Photos from the workplace edition session at the Ministry of Trade, Investment, Promotion, Private Sector Development and Consumer Protection

Photos from the worksite Meeting at the Labour Department

Photos from the team visit to Belize Bureau of Standards

Next, the focal point Ministry headed to ITVET/Ministry of Education


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