Bermuda Seeks CARICOM Membership but Opts Out of Free Movement Initiative

1140 hamilton bermuda
Aerial view of Hamilton, Bermuda’s capital

Bermuda, aiming for full membership in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), has clarified its stance on the free movement of nationals across member states, a pivotal component of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). Premier David Burt, representing Bermuda at the 46th CARICOM summit in Guyana, emphasized that despite pursuing full CARICOM membership, Bermuda is not considering participating in the free movement initiative set to commence on March 31, this year.

Burt highlighted the uniqueness of Bermuda’s situation, given its small size and the implications of open borders. He noted, “It would be incorrect to conclude that full membership means freedom of movement for citizens of other member states to Bermuda.” This statement underlines Bermuda’s cautious approach towards integrating fully into all aspects of the CSME, particularly concerning the free movement of labor and skills.

The CSME’s free movement policy is designed to allow CARICOM nationals to seek employment and engage in work across the region without the need for work permits, thereby enhancing regional integration and labor mobility. However, exceptions exist, with countries like The Bahamas, Montserrat, and Haiti not participating in this aspect of the CSME.

Grenada’s Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell, addressing the summit’s outcome, mentioned ongoing discussions about the implementation timeline and the potential for some countries to seek modifications or “carve outs” regarding full compliance with the free movement directive. While these discussions continue, CARICOM remains committed to achieving its single market goals, including harmonizing business laws and recognizing mutual qualifications and standards.

The summit communique reaffirmed the leaders’ commitment to expedite the CSME objectives, focusing on free movement, business law harmonization, and mutual recognition to foster a more integrated Caribbean region. Bermuda’s position reflects the broader challenges and considerations individual member states face in balancing national interests with regional integration ambitions.

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