BVI Holds Firm Against Free Movement Ahead Of CARICOM Meeting

Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News

Source: BVI Platinum News

Premier Hon. Dr. Orlando Smith has suggested that it would be dangerous for the BVI to remotely consider free movement of Caribbean nationals through the BVI. The BVI is among five Overseas Territories (OTs) who are Associate Members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and is not subject to citizens being allowed free movement within member states.

Speaking ahead of a special meeting with CARICOM Secretary General, Dr. Irwin Larocque in the Turks and Caicos Islands, Premier Smith told reporters on Monday, July 18 that if the topic of free movement comes up, the BVI does not intend to change it’s position on the matter, suggesting that it is not in the best interest of Territory.

One of the ultimate goals of CARICOM is free movement for all citizens within the current 15 countries that have full membership. However, only some categories of people are now being allowed free movement—artists, media, university graduates, musicians and sports persons.

“The BVI has a position (against free movement) because you know the BVI has, from the point of view of immigration, higher immigration than most of the other Caribbean territories who are speaking about free movement of travel,” the Premier told reporters in response to questions.

Premier Smith however noted that the OTs, including the BVI, intend to discuss how CARICOM can better represent them the way they represent full CARICOM members.

“…Part of the discussion with CARICOM and OTs, it’s really (about) correspondent banking, where we expect CARICOM, who is making intervention on behalf of CARICOM members, will also be able to make intervention on behalf of OTs. It also depends on whether we discuss other matters involving relationships with OTs and CARICOM, and (then) that discussion will be had,” he said.

Premier Smith traveled to Turks and Caicos yesterday, July 19, where he will join other OT leaders at the Pre-Joint Ministerial Council being hosted by Premier Dr. Hon. Rufus Ewing.

According to the Premier, in the margins of the Pre-JMC, the OT leaders of the Associate Members of CARICOM, including BVI, will have a special meeting with CARICOM Secretary General Dr. Larocque to discuss their priorities and the overall CARICOM agenda, including a proposed Caribbean international conference on correspondent banking and more general, the OTs ongoing relationship and engagement with CARICOM.

The five Associate Members of CARICOM are Anguilla, BVI, Bermuda, Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands.

According CARICOM Secretariat, when the CARICOM conceived and agreed on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), it was in recognition of challenges posed by the increasingly globalised economy and the need to increase competitiveness of the goods and services of the region for regional and international markets.

CARICOM stated that this naturally necessitated removal of barriers to trade, with free movement of regional services, goods and capital, and people.