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Immigration, trade among issues to be tackled at conference

In-depth participation by The Bahamas is expected at the upcoming Northern Caribbean Conference(NCC)on Economic Development and Co-operation, which will focus on immigration, trade, education and security issues.

“There are specific things we can deal with right now, such as in the movement of people between our countries,”Earl Jarrett, General Manager of Jamaica National Building Society(JNBS)said yesterday.”We have people moving around despite the structures put up by government.”

According to him there was a significant population of Jamaicans in the Cayman Islands, while there were Haitians in The Bahamas and Jamaica.

The December 17 conference, to be held at the Ritz-Carlton in Grand Cayman, will aim to encourage closer regional collaboration.

“We can begin to take advantage of the opportunities ahead of us,”the general manager declared. He asserts the potential is significant given the northern Caribbean islands have 75 percent of the region’s population and 70 percent of its tourist arrivals.

Apart from the development of mechanisms to manage the movement of people, Jarrett pointed to trade issues such as live cattle being smuggled into the Cayman Islands from the parishes of St. Elizabeth and Westmoreland in Jamaica. If that trade were to be formalized, with the development of a rational way of getting foodstuff into that country and Haiti, he said,”We would begin to see new possibilities emerge.”

Cooperation in the field of education is another area of opportunity, with the possibility of Jamaica and Cuba playing a significant role in the trade of education services, Jarrett indicated. He pointed to the possibility of tourism being boosted by adopting the principle used during the Cricket World Cup, where a tourist who entered one country could move across all countries.

The conference will include presentations from Cayman’s Premier McKeeva Bush; the Prime Minister of Jamaica Bruce Golding; and CARICOM Special Representative on Haiti P.J. Patterson. It will also feature addresses by representatives from American, Canadian and British development agencies; as well as entrepreneurs and members of academia.

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