Work continues to implement free movement in CARICOM – Johnson Smith

Efforts continue to implement the free movement of citizens of the Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) throughout the region.

During Wednesday’s post-Cabinet press conference, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, provided an update on efforts to expand freedom of movement for CARICOM citizens within the region.

The minister reaffirmed Jamaica’s commitment to “the principle of complete freedom of movement,” which CARICOM leaders agreed to in March, by setting a deadline for amendment of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas by March 31, 2024.

The treaty amendment will guarantee all CARICOM nationals the right to travel and work freely within the member states of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.

The new agreement will, among other things, go beyond the free movement of skills to the free movement of people in general.

However, Johnson Smith acknowledged that significant engineering work remains to be done to achieve this goal.

“I had indicated that Jamaica had always believed that a significant amount of technical work needed to be done to achieve this goal.

“So while I reaffirm Jamaica’s commitment to the principle of complete freedom of movement, we have always said that this is the best way for all CARICOM nationals to experience and believe in the region. work to do, and that is recognized,” she stated.

An Intergovernmental Task Force (IGTF), of which Jamaica is a member, continues to iron out details around access to health care, education and labor regulations to ease the transition to full freedom of movement.

“We’re working on things like the definitions of health care at the emergency level and at the primary level, which mean different things in different countries and have implications not only for capacity, but also for costs…,” Johnson Smith explained.

“Similarly, we have also been working on this for education, because access to primary and secondary education would be part of what is being considered, and of course with the Ministry of Labor and Social Security and the Ministry of Finance with which we work. very closely, because… there would be a right to work,” she indicated.

According to Johnson Smith, further updates will be provided at the next full meeting of CARICOM heads of government in July 2024 in Grenada, if not sooner.

“…But the IGTF continues to work and Jamaica also continues to work,” she assured.

The historic step for Caribbean integration has been in the making for years.