Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to CARICOM Clarifies Position on Free Movement

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Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to CARICOM Clarifies Position on Free Movement

In a recent interview with Twin Island Media, Dr. Clarence Henry, Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to CARICOM, discussed the country’s stance on free movement within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

The discussion centered on Antigua and Barbuda’s position on the matter, highlighting the government’s current approach and future intentions regarding free movement.

Ambassador Henry began by acknowledging Prime Minister Mia Mottley as the lead spokesperson on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

He stated that during the press conference following the 46th Heads of Government Meeting in Guyana, Prime Minister Mottley presented the conclusions reached regarding free movement.

He emphasized that Antigua and Barbuda, along with other CARICOM member states, has been actively engaged in meetings to discuss the details of how free movement will be implemented.

“Prime Minister Mottley did put on the table the conclusions… and as you know, she did inform that the discussion negotiations at the level of the intergovernmental task force… set a decision timeframe of the end of March this year,” Ambassador Henry stated.

He said, from the outset, Antigua and Barbuda expressed its position that it does not currently wish to implement a policy of full free movement.

The country has communicated this stance through letters and verbal statements at various meetings, including those of the Intergovernmental Task Force (IGF) and the Community Council of Ministers.

“We prefer to adopt, as we have been adopting for the past many years, a skills regime… we certainly cannot implement that carte blanche Open Door policy,” Ambassador Henry reiterated.

Ambassador Henry emphasized that any decision to change Antigua and Barbuda’s position on free movement would need to come from the Cabinet and Parliament.

He highlighted the country’s history of allowing regional movement and its commitment to the integration movement, while also acknowledging the current fiscal challenges facing the nation.

“Once we are able to implement such a liberal policy, we would signal to the Secretariat and to the community that we are ready,” Ambassador Henry explained.

Antigua and Barbuda’s stance on free movement is not new, as the country has previously obtained derogations and opted out of certain obligations within CARICOM.

Ambassador Henry noted that there has been no pushback from other member states regarding Antigua and Barbuda’s position.

“We have obtained derogations, we have opted out of certain obligations… we have not seen experienced any pushback from any member state of the community,” Ambassador Henry clarified.

Ambassador Henry reaffirmed Antigua and Barbuda’s commitment to CARICOM while maintaining a cautious approach to free movement.

The country remains open to adopting a more liberal policy in the future but will do so only when it is economically feasible and in the best interest of the nation.

Listen to his full interview from Twin Island Media here:

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