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GEORGETOWN, Guyana — Immigration officers within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have begun training sessions aimed at improving the treatment of nationals at ports of entry in the region.

CARICOM Ministers of Trade were apprised of the development at the 34th meeting the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), which concluded Friday.

The two-day meeting heard that officers in Jamaica were trained earlier this year and additional training sessions are planned between April and June for other member states that were identified as priority. Among them are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

The training sessions, which are being financed under the Ninth European Development Fund (EDF), followed a decision of the COTED in November last year for the commencement of comprehensive training for border control staff in Member States.

The sessions are part of efforts to improve the facilitation of travel under the Free Movement Regime of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

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In their consideration of matters under the broad heading of the CSME, the Ministers also agreed to convene a special meeting of the COTED to identify the way forward, given the recommendations of a report on the challenges that prevent Belize and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Member States from effectively participating in the CSME. The Meeting discussed the recommendations against the background of growing the regional economy and ensuring full participation of all Member States in the CSME.

Based on 23 factors that were identified as preventing those countries from effectively participating in the CSME, the Ministers highlighted the need for heavy support in areas including financing – full integration into CARICOM and the CSME of the nine-member OECS will cost about US$282M – human resource and tourism development and transportation.

While there were extensive discussions on the subject, Ministers felt further examination of the recommendations was necessary.

(CARICOM press release)

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