BELMOPAN, Belize — Secretary-general of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Irwin LaRocque has urged the Belizean private sector to make use of the opportunities provided under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
On the second and final day of his official visit to Belize, LaRocque told a cross section of private sector representatives that CARICOM “is your market. Use it! It is your right.”
He described the interaction with the group as one of the highest levels of engagement he has had with the business community during his visits to member states.
The secretary-general outlined to the businessmen the measures being undertaken to encourage the growth of trade within the Community and also the opportunities for increasing exports to international markets. He stressed Belize’s potential to capitalise in both instances particularly in the area of agriculture.
The business community brought to the Secretary-General’s attention some of their concerns and offered suggestions to improve the trading exchanges within the Community.
Discussions also centred on Belize’s role as a possible conduit to increase trade and business opportunities between CARICOM and Central America.
Later the Secretary-General told youth representatives that he viewed youth as an asset, not a problem and their time was now, not the future.
LaRocque met with the group including one of the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors and members of the group of Belizean students who participated in a project funded by the European Union which enabled them to visit other member states of the Community to observe the CSME in action.
The lively exchanges included discussions on how to pass on the knowledge gained from the CSME travel experience and sustain interest in the activities of CARICOM.
The need for targeted public education programmes to generate a sense of ownership of the integration movement in Belize was one of the issues raised and included a suggestion of a sustained programme in the formal education system from kindergarten to university.
LaRocque also had a lengthy interaction with the Belizean media in the form of a dialogue during which suggestions to improve the information flow to Belize with respect to the Community took centre stage. It was a theme that continued during his appearance on a live television programme on Tuesday night.
Earlier LaRocque visited the headquarters of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) in Belize City where he was met by executive director Dr Milton Haughton. After touring the offices, he met with staff and was brought up to date on the state of the various projects which the CRFM is undertaking.