Caribbean Diaspora In Florida Urged To Lobby

Dania Beach – The Caribbean Diaspora in Florida has been challenged to launch a lobbying effort aimed at having removed some of the barriers to the import into Florida of agricultural produce and products from Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean region.

The challenge was thrown out by chairman and chief executive officer of the Laparkan Group of Companies, Glen Khan during a forum on trade at the Jamaica/USA Business Expo and Conference held here this past weekend.

Khan noted that because Florida is an agricultural producer there are restrictions on the import of certain produce and products and this affected the export of some products from Jamaica and the CARICOM region in general which are in demand in Florida and “would contribute significantly to the economies of our small countries.”

“One of the challenges I want to throw out to the Jamaica/USA Chamber of Commerce is to take the lead in mobilizing the Caribbean Diaspora in Florida to work with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat and regional governments in mounting a strong lobby to have some of these barriers to trade with Florida removed. These products come into New York without any problems but because Florida is an agricultural state there are these restrictions and in the context of free trade, and because Florida is the gateway to and from the Caribbean we should work to have these restrictions removed,” Khan said.

Noting that Florida now has a Lieutenant Governor who is from the Caribbean in addition to several elected officials including State Representative Hazel Rogers, Khan said the timing could not be better for a well articulated lobbying effort to address this issue.

Khan, who had just returned from a Caribbean Shipping Association (CSA) meeting in Guadeloupe, said another of the challenges confronting Caribbean countries, especially the smaller economies, “are the costs associated with becoming compliant with new security regulations in the United States which have been put in place to address terrorism and drug trafficking. These are challenges we have got to work together to surmount,” Khan said.

Khan was part of a panel at the trade forum that included representatives of JAMPRO, the National Land Agency of Jamaica and Enterprise Florida. Laparkan was among the sponsors of the business expo and conference as well as some 40 exhibitors at the expo. The Laparkan delegation also included its Trinidad and Tobago-based regional senior vice-president James Devers and general manager of Laparkan Jamaica, Marguerite Taylor.

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