The Prime Minister called on Canada to eliminate its requirement for TT citizens to get a visa to enter that country.
He was speaking at the Caricom heads meeting in Barbados on Tuesday. Dr Rowley’s remarks were directed at Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, who was present, although Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau cancelled his intended visit.
Champagne had told leaders his country is taking steps to strengthen its relationship with Caricom, and has proposed an annual meeting between the two.
A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister said in reply to Champagne, Rowley asked Canada to consider lifting its visa requirements for TT nationals and by extension those of the region. He said both sides will be "well served by the removal of this barrier, given Trinidad and Tobago’s deep and historical connections with Canada."
Rowley also vowed to help further the work of the Caricom Single Market and Economy. He promised two officers from the Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs will be seconded to the unit to bolster the regional integration initiative.
Caricom chairman, Barbados PM Mia Mottley, spoke of the region’s response to the novel coronavirus.
“When we left Castries in July last year, we had no clue that we would be facing a potential pandemic in the world with covid19.
“We didn’t have any idea that our ability to function as a single domestic space would be threatened by that development.”
She said the Implementation Agency for Crime and Security can track the movement of people and so alert border agents of risks posed by individuals entering the region. Mottley said this regional agency provides front-line protection for member states.
Outgoing Caricom chairman, St Lucia PM Allen Chastanet, hailed the region’s collaboration against covid19.
“As many of you are aware, a week ago Saint Lucia was on high alert and thankfully the RSS (Regional Security System) stepped in to help get our samples to CARPHA for immediate testing and they quickly came back to us with news that we were coronavirus free.”
He hailed the RSS and CARPHA for going above and beyond the call of duty. “This reminds us of the importance of being part of a union; being part of a group that in times of emergency have your back. This is what being part of Caricom is about.”
On Wednesday, the leaders will consider the challenges of blacklisting, de-risking and the withdrawal of correspondent banking services, plus a proposed Caricom-African summit and other matters.