By Benjamin Flowers
A greater number of Belizeans are looking for employment opportunities in the wider Caribbean through the Caribbean Community Single Market and Economy (CSME) says the Ministry of Trade, Investment Promotion, Private Sector Development & Consumer Protection.
Berinsford Codd, trade economist with the ministry, explained that 187 Belizeans have received their CARICOM skills certificates, and well over 200 have applied for their certificates.
These certificates permit them to work indefinitely without work permits in any of the other 12 CARICOM member states, which are signatories to the CSME.
“A variety of categories have fielded applications. Majority in Belize are university graduates – engineers, doctors, economists, architects, etc.,” Codd said. He continued that “some applications remain outstanding for a variety of reasons, such as incomplete applications, lack of verification of qualifications etc.”
Codd explained that more attractive salaries have members of all CARICOM countries utilizing the freedom of movement afforded by the CSME agreement.
Another CSME freedom bringing benefit to Belize has been the trade in goods. In 2009 Belizean Exports to CARICOM were $25 million. The ministry explained the composition of the goods being exported as: 34 percent frozen concentrate, 5 percent, molasses, 20 percent animal feed, 17 percent, shellfish (lobster\shrimp\conch), 15 percent, beans (Mostly Red Kidney) and nine percent corn.
By 2013 the figure had grown to $90 million. Belize has maintained a positive trade balance surplus with CARICOM valuing at approximately $40 million, according to ministry statistics.
The CSME presents five fundamental freedoms to member states: movement of goods, services, capital, skills (people), and the right to establish a business.