Aug 10

The Directorate General for Foreign Trade (DGFT) extends special thanks to all stakeholders that contributed to making CARICOM Week a great success. CARICOM Week, celebrated under the theme “What CARICOM Means to Me”, highlighted the opportunities accessible to Belizeans as Nationals of the Caribbean Community.

In 2006, 13 CARICOM countries, including Belize, established the CARICOM Single Market & Economy (CSME), agreeing that nationals of these countries could travel, work and do business within these Member States, and be granted the same access enjoyed in their own country of birth. However, research conducted in Belize has shown that lack of knowledge about the benefits, rights, and procedures among our nationals has stalled participation in the Single Market.

As a means of stimulating awareness on the opportunities provided by the CSME, the DGFT in collaboration with the Opportunity Belize Network Committee promoted the CSME through a series of events for CARICOM Week (May 2nd to 6th, 2017).These events included weekly appearances on the Grace and You Cooking Show; an appearance on Love FM; open mic night at Sit and Sip in Belize City; CARICOM food and drink specials at the Wings Stop in Belmopan; sporting competitions in Cayo and Belize; CARICOM Street Art Competition; and a CARICOM Food and Beer Mixer held at the Balloon Pizzeria in Belize City.

Leading up to CARICOM Week, national dishes from several CARICOM Member States were featured on the Grace and You Cooking Show.  Dishes prepared during the segments included Belize’s Creole conch with mackerel in tomato sauce; Antigua & Barbuda’s seasoned rice and Carib beer battered fish; and Saint Vincent’s roasted breadfruit and fried jack fish. Barbados’ macaroni pie and Guyana’s pepper pot will be featured on May 19th and June 2nd, respectively. We are grateful for the support of Grace Kennedy Limited; the Grace and You Cooking Show acted as a springboard from where all other activities were launched, it provided the DGFT with the necessary medium to publicize the activities that took place during CARICOM Week.

Grace Kennedy Belize Limited and R.C. Imports were instrumental in the success of the CARICOM Food and Beer Mixer at the Balloon Pizzeria on Saturday, May 6th. Both distributors took the opportunity to showcase the beverages imported through the benefits provided under the CSME, while the Balloon Pizzeria provided CARICOM specials for the night. Festivities for the night were enhanced by the Panerrifix Steel Band’s beautiful renditions of numerous Caribbean songs. We are truly thankful for the assistance of the distributors who sponsored and participated in the event.

The CARICOM Street Art Competition took place on the morning of May 6th. Seven artists astounded the judges with exquisite paintings which depicted what CARICOM means to them. Keion Griffith walked away with the first prize; Rony Jovel took second and Alex Sanker placed third. Participants received workshop and seminar certificates from the University of the West Indies along with cash prizes. Cash prizes for the participants of the competition were sponsored by Belize Electricity Limited, Belize Natural Energy, Vista Real Estate, and BELTRAIDE.  The assistance of the judges, the support of the University of the West Indies and financial contribution of the aforementioned entities greatly contributed to DGFT’s awareness initiatives to the benefit of all Belizeans.

We extend a heartfelt thank you to Tropic Air and Seaquarius Adventures who contributed to the prizes for the CARICOM Skills Certificate raffle. All applicants of the CARICOM skills certificate during the month of May were automatically entered a raffle. The winner walked away with a roundtrip ticket to San Pedro where they will be given a Snuba Tour courtesy of Seaquarius Adventures.

To conclude the events of the week, the Government Press Office highlighted the benefits of acquiring the CARICOM skills certificate and the work of CARICOM institutions in Belize on their weekly news.

The activities of CARICOM Week would not have been a success without the planning and coordination of the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors, the Belize City House of Culture and Downtown Rejuvenation Project, Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, National Institute of Culture and History, the Music Industry Association of Belize, the University of the West Indies, Government Press office and the staff of the Directorate General for Foreign Trade. We are eternally grateful for all the support and assistance.

The CARICOM Single Market provides Belizeans with more and better opportunities to work, travel, produce and sell our goods and services and to attract investment. As CARICOM nationals, know your rights, learn the procedures, and access your benefits!