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Stabroek News

CARICOM's historic steps towards integration, conference in brief
published: Sunday | July 9, 2006

Six Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States countries joined the CARICOM Single Market: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. They join the six countries, including Jamaica, who signed on January 1.

The CARICOM Implementation Agency For Crime and Security was established, as well as the signing of a memorandum of understanding for intelligence sharing between CARICOM members and a treaty on security assistance.

A memorandum of intent was signed with the United States for access to its Advanced Passenger Information System, which will allow CARICOM immigration authorities to gain information on airline and cruise ship passengers before they land.

Teachers and nurses are being added to the categories of labour allowed free movement with CARICOM. Higglers, skilled labourers and hospitality workers are to be added at a later date.

Visitors to the nine Cricket World Cup 2007 countries (and Dominica) will be issued with a single CARICOM visa between January 15 and May 15.

CARICOM leaders all but said "Yes!" to supporting Venezuela at the vote for a United Nations Security Council seat given the region's irreconcilable differences with rival Guatemala, who the U.S. is supporting for the seat.

A delegation of heads of government will visit Haiti as part of efforts to assess the country's readiness capacity to comply with CARICOM regulations. Heads promised further assistance to Haiti including Trinidad which promised access to its Petroleum Fund.

Heads agreed to the importance of the focus on migration and development at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on September 14-15, given the significance of both issues to the region.

Heads welcomed the opportunities provided by the Conference of the Caribbean to be held in Washington D.C., during Caribbean American Heritage month in July 2007, and called for the U.S. to engage the region more.

Jamaica declined to participate in shared diplomatic representation by CARICOM members in selected countries.

Heads agreed to begin a bilateral trade agreement process with Canada, as well as are considering one with the U.S. on the likely end of negotiations on the broader North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Heads reiterated the need to provide greater financial assistance in light of the end of the Sugar Protocol. They also agreed that political action was needed support the African, Caribbean and Pacific group in convincing the European Union (EU) that bananas should be listed as a sensitive product as part of what they said should be a collective approach by CARICOM banana-exporting countries within the economic partnership agreement being negotiated with the EU.

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