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Belize Central Investigation Laboratory (CIL) receives Lab Equipment to strengthen Fisheries Monitoring and Testing



Bridgetown, Barbados, 17th September 2023 (IICA): A limitation to increasing trade of fish and fisheries products in Belize is the restricted capacity of the sector to conduct tests indicating that products do indeed meet international market standards. Funded by the European Union, a key activity of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures Project is to improve laboratory testing capacity for the fisheries and aquaculture sector in the CARIFORUM Region. As part of this activity, technical assistance has been provided to the Belize Agricultural Health Authority’s (BAHA) Central Investigation Laboratory (CIL) through training, technical guidance, and the provision of equipment. The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) is the executing body, and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) is a major partner in the implementation of this SPS Action.

Speaking at the Laboratory Equipment Handing-over Ceremony on 8th September in Belize, Aniceto Rodriguez Ruiz, Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica, Belize, and The Bahamas, said, “The Sanitary and Phytosanitary EPA programme in Belize is funded by the European Union, demonstrating its commitment to supporting trade and regional integration, to promote food safety and plant protection in the country. The programme aims to strengthen Belize’s capacity and regulations to ensure the safety of agricultural products such as livestock and food crops or fisheries products and promote safer protection both for domestic consumption and for export.”

As part of this programme, the European Union handed over a Microwave Sample Digestion System, laboratory testing kits, diagnostic tools, and inspection equipment to upgrade CIL’s fisheries monitoring and testing facilities. “These tools will enable Belize to conduct accurate and reliable testing of agricultural and fisheries products, identify potential risks, and ensure compliance with international standards and regulations. The equipment will also contribute to the prevention and control of pests and diseases, safeguarding the health of consumers and ensuring the sustainability of Belize’s agricultural and fisheries sector,” Rodriguez Ruiz said.

In 2020, the most important fishing commodities exported from Belize to the US market were valued as follows, the Spiny Lobster at US$8.4 million and the Queen Conch at US$4.7 million. Dr. Sandra Grant, Deputy Executive Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), shared why improving market entry is important, “Increased market access on the trade of fish and fish products requires that businesses in Belize and the Caribbean must meet the requisite standards to export, especially for the international markets. Laboratory testing services are often inadequate and pose challenges to CARICOM countries in achieving the certification of products and meeting international market standards. Therefore, the laboratory services for testing chemicals and microbial food safety parameters for fisheries products play an important role in SPS measures. This small action today will contribute to the attainment of CARICOM food and nutrition security goals, sustain trade and economic development, and improve the capacity of our laboratories across the Caribbean to conduct testing for the fisheries and aquaculture sector in the Caribbean.”

CIL will now be able to perform tests relating to environmental and residue monitoring, preparing Belize to meet testing requirements for improved hygiene and consumer safety and to fulfil high standards for exported products. Ultimately, regional and international trade of fish and fish products will be improved in the following areas: inspection, import/export certification, diagnostics, risk assessment, surveillance, and reporting. The private sector will be positively impacted at all stages of the fisheries value chain, including fishermen, fishing organisations, fish processors, exporters and exporters’ associations, and other national and regional private sector fishing associations and entities.

Dr. Natalie Gibson, Laboratory Administrator/Deputy Director of Food Safety Services at BAHA’s Central Investigation Laboratory, also delivered remarks at the Handing-over Ceremony, “Initial plans for the use of the equipment are focused on testing for such substances as mercury, lead and cadmium in fish and fishery products – these metals can harm the health of consumers when they contaminate food or water at levels that are not safe. The equipment also has many broader applications and can be used in the preparation of various sample types for elemental analysis.”


Photo Captions: 

Header: From left to right at the Equipment Handing-over Ceremony: Dr. Natalie Gibson, Laboratory Administrator/Deputy Director, Food Safety Services, BAHA Central Investigation Laboratory (CIL); Aniceto Rodriguez Ruiz, Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica, Belize, and The Bahamas; and Willie Chan, Technical Coordinator, IICA Delegation in Belize.

 insert: From left to right, examining the Microwave Sample Digestion System: Xavier Canton-Lamousse, Team Lead, Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica, Belize, and The Bahamas; Aniceto Rodriguez Ruiz, Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica, Belize and The Bahamas; and Colette EuseyCuellar, Analytical Chemist, Central Investigation Laboratory (CIL).


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Caribbean News

USA Caribbean Investment Forum: Partnering for Sustained Development in the Caribbean 2023 Event Recap



The USA Caribbean Investment Forum took place over two days last week at the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square. The event, hosted by the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (CAIPA) in partnership with representatives of the CARICOM Consular Corps (namely, the Consulates General of Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Antigua & Barbuda), brought together government officials, investment promotion agencies, entrepreneurs, and business leaders from the Caribbean diaspora to connect, engage in thoughtful discussions, and explore investment opportunities throughout the Caribbean.

Fostering International Collaboration

The event featured distinguished speakers and representatives from both the US and Caribbean governments. Consuls General Mr. Mackie Holder (Barbados), Mr. Jerome Andre Laveau (Trinidad & Tobago), and Mr. Rondy McIntosh (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) along with Jeanette Moy, Commissioner of the NYS Office of General Services, Edward Mermelstein, NYC Commissioner of International Affairs, and Molly Bauer, Industry Development Associate from the NY Governor’s Office, shed light on the initiatives that New York City, which is home to so many Caribbean Diaspora, is implementing to support economic collaboration between the regions.

Engaging with Global Leaders

Hon. Kenneth Bryan, Minister for Tourism & Ports, Cayman Islands, and Chair of Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and Hon. E. Jay Saunders, Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance, Trade and Investment, Turks and Caicos Islands delivered insights via keynote speeches and held candid discussions during panel and Q&A sessions. The event served as a unique opportunity to communicate in an open and honest forum with two esteemed leaders from the Caribbean about investing in the region.

Promoting Investment Opportunities

CAIPA welcomed representatives from Invest Barbados, Invest Dominica, Grenada Investment Development Corporation (GIDC), InvesTT (Trinidad and Tobago), Invest Turks and Caicos, St. Kitts Investment Promotion Agency (SKIPA), Invest St. Lucia, Invest St. Vincent & the Grenadines, the Bahamas Investment Authority, the Curacao Investment and Export Promotion Agency (CINEX), and the Sint Maarten Ministry of Tourism, Economy, Transport and Telecommunications, to discuss various opportunities for investment in their respective countries and how their agencies support and facilitate potential investors.

Hearing Private Sector Success Stories

Private sector companies including the St. James School of Medicine, Century21 Guyana, Ethniv, and Homestrings joined the forum to discuss their current active projects in the Caribbean.  They detailed how they’ve worked with local governments and institutions to successfully launch and operate their businesses in the Caribbean, along with the potential opportunities for continued growth.

Understanding How Caribbean Financial Institutions Facilitate Investment

The Forum brought together key representatives from Caribbean financial and economic development institutions: IDB Lab (Ms. Magdalena Coronel, Chief Investment Officer), the National Commercial Bank Jamaica LTD (Mr. Jeffrey Brown, Head, Loans Structuring and Syndications), USAID (Mr. Mervyn Farroe, USAID representative for the Eastern and Southern Caribbean), and the Caribbean Development Bank (Ms. Lisa Harding, Private Sector Development Specialist) to detail how these organizations facilitate and support private investment in the Caribbean.

Forging Connections

Attendees had the opportunity to meet directly with CAIPA member countries during business meetings.  These one-on-one conversations were valuable opportunities to speak directly with key stakeholders in order to advance projects and forge direct relationships.

The inaugural USA Caribbean Investment Forum was a great success due to the collaboration and engagement from individuals representing a wide range of sectors, organizations, and countries – all united under the goal of driving economic growth in the Caribbean and taking advantage of the enormous opportunities available in the region.  CAIPA and the representatives of the CARICOM Consular Corps are proud to have facilitated these conversations and supported deepening of relationships with key stakeholders throughout the US and the Caribbean.  We look forward to our next event, which will be held on 6-8 March in Miami (Caribbean Logistics Investment Conference 2024) – focused on attracting investments into logistics and transportation by sea and air as well as e-commerce logistics and industrial logistics parks throughout the Caribbean.  Stay tuned for more details!If you or anyone you know is interested in joining the CAIPA mailing list, please visit: to sign up for our newsletter.

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Caribbean News

Early-Childhood Institutions in St. Catherine Get Time Clocks



#Kingston, September 26, 2023 – Two early-childhood institutions in Kitson Town, St. Catherine, have received 15 time clocks each from educator, Jillian Wray-Robinson, with support from Food For the Poor (FFP).

Speaking at the handover of the clocks at the Kitson Town Basic School on September 25, Ms. Wray-Robinson said they are an important resource for the young students and can help them learn to value time.

“This is where my Foundation was dug, and as an educator, I am giving back and taking the time to invest in the future. It is very important; time is money and money is time, and if they learn how to read the clock, it will become of importance to them,” she said.

Principal of the school, Charline Nathon, said she was grateful for the items, noting that the donation was timely.

“I am sure the children will use it to the best of their ability. The clock is what we are doing in the curriculum – they learn to read the clock,” the Principal said.

Speaking at the handover of the clocks at the Old Road Early Childhood Centre, Ms. Wray-Robinson told the audience that her daughter spent her first year of formal education at the school, and it was a delight to assist them in obtaining the 15 items.

“After carefully looking at the curriculum, I know it will be useful to them (students). School begins on  time, and ends with time, and we want our children to learn how to read the clock, and how to tell the time,” she said.

Principal of the school, June Maxwell, said the clocks will help her students, and “we will truly use the resources to the best of our knowledge, and ability”.


Contact: Garfield L. Angus

Release: JIS

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Bahamas News

CTO mourns the passing of former chairman Obediah Wilchcombe



#BARBADOS (September 26, 2023) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) deeply mourns the loss of distinguished Bahamian leader and former chairman of the inter-regional body, Obediah Wilchcombe.

At the time of his passing, Mr. Wilchcombe was serving as Minister of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting and Leader of Government Business in the House of Assembly of the Bahamas.

“We extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences to Minister Wilchcombe’s family, as well as the government and people of the Bahamas. He was a true champion for the people of the Bahamas and the wider Caribbean region,” remarked Kenneth Bryan, CTO Chairman and Minister of Tourism and Ports of the Cayman Islands.

Chairman Bryan recalled Minister Wilchcombe held the position of CTO Chairman twice (2002-2004 and 2016-2017) while serving as Minister of Tourism for the Bahamas, and contributed significantly to the advancement of sustainable tourism development in the Caribbean.

Chairman Bryan noted that the CTO plans to honor the life and legacy of “this eminent Bahamian leader” at the organization’s upcoming business meetings and the State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC) in Turks and Caicos next month.

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