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PM Golding speaks at Miami Conference on Caribbean Basin

MIAMI – Prime Minister Bruce Golding of Jamaica has called on the United States to join with other developed countries to see what mechanisms can be put in place to ease the burden of heavily indebted middle income countries like Jamaica. The imbalance in the debt to GDP ratio is crippling the capacity of Jamaica to achieve meaningful and economic sustained growth and development.

Speaking on Tuesday, (Dec. 4) at the plenary dinner of the three-day conference which has the theme “A region poised for growth” at the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Miami, the Prime Minister said, “to further assist Jamaica in positioning itself for growth, something had to be done to address the indebtedness of middle income countries”. Thus, he was proposing to international financial institutions (IFI) and governments of developed countries that they should explore ways of addressing this critical concern.

Recognizing the challenges facing CARICOM’s trading relationship with the United States, Mr. Golding noted that the time of non-reciprocal preferential trade arrangements such as the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), was drawing to a close. He said that the USA had failed to secure an extension of the waiver for the CBI in the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act was due to expire in September 2008.

He further suggested that the USA should recognize that it needed to play a positive role in the development of the region recognizing the interdependency of the USA and countries such as those in CARICOM, sitting on its so-called ‘Third Border.’

He said that Jamaica did not want to appear as a mendicant, but the disparity in the levels of development had to be taken into consideration in any future trade arrangements.

Prime Minister Golding further challenged his audience to collaborate in formulating an agenda for development which would be mutually beneficial.

He reminded them that as important as they were, development could not be based on trade and investment alone, and Jamaica stood as testimony to this. There were other contributing factors, he noted.

Regarding Jamaica’s development, the Prime Minister said that in spite of the challenges, the nation was making considerable strides in positioning itself for growth.

Taking advantage of the country’s unique geographical positioning, he noted that Jamaica was alive with opportunities, and said that there were already improvements to the physical and telecommunications infrastructure and in streamlining the public service to create an improved environment for investment.

While much more needed to be done to improve the country’s competitiveness, the Prime Minister pointed to the fact that of 177 countries, Jamaica ranked at 60 in the world competitiveness index. Jamaica was not only open, but was, in fact, hungry for business and was ready to do all that was necessary to improve its business environment.

Prime Minister Golding reminded his audience of his election commitment that he wanted to create a Jamaica in which we may not all be rich, but nobody had to be poor.

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