Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bahamas Committed To CARICOM

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

The Bahamas has pledged its commitment to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), seeking the exploration of avenues for closer investment, collaboration and cooperation.

The newly accredited ambassador to CARICOM, Sidney Collie, has spoken of his responsibility for maintaining positive relations between the Bahamas and the community, a relationship he says has "blossomed". The Bahamas has belonged to CARICOM since 1983, and Collie sees it as his mission to identify and put in place further mechanisms for collaboration and cooperation.

Collie acknowledged that, while CARICOM has faced substantial challenges, its maintenance of specific goals, continued unity and purpose must be appreciated. He wishes to see CARICOM engage "like-minded" countries, in order to ensure its concerns are voiced in those areas in which it is not represented.

In addition, developments in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) have been closely monitored by Bahamian officials, with Collie stressing that although the Bahamas was not yet a signatory to the CSME, it was aware of the importance of integration to the Community. As a result of its absence from the CSME, free movement of labour has not been agreed to by the Bahamas. However, Collie argued, this remains immaterial, as the Bahamas operates a long established tradition of welcoming those Caribbean nationals looking for work. In particular, those engaged in the education, accountancy and banking and finance fields are welcomed, and a niche market also exists for domestic workers and caregivers.

Furthermore, Collie made clear that the Bahamas understands the extent to which it derives the majority (60%) of its GDP from tourism. According to Collie, ministers take the issue "very seriously". As a result, Collie insisted that the Bahamas attaches great importance to sustainable development, singling out the Mauritius Strategy, which seeks further implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for Small Island Developing States. This United Nations programme deals with key issues facing islands, and strives to achieve sustainable development goals.


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