JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. P.J. Patterson, says the region must unite in order to achieve economic prosperity and effectively address issues such as food insecurity, natural disasters and health challenges.
  • Mr. Patterson was delivering the keynote address during the official opening ceremony for the 3rd Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM)/European Union (EU) Business Conference on Wednesday, April 15, at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay.
  • He noted that today’s generation exists in a world where enemies, who have fought against each other for centuries, have learnt to come together.

Former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. P.J. Patterson, says the region must unite in order to achieve economic prosperity and effectively address issues such as food insecurity, natural disasters and health challenges.

“We, who were called upon to serve at varying times in political leadership, must avoid the insular approach, which impels us to fight against each other, rather than pool our collective resources for mutual economic growth and shared prosperity,” he said.

Mr. Patterson was delivering the keynote address during the official opening ceremony for the 3rd Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM)/European Union (EU) Business Conference on Wednesday, April 15, at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay.

He noted that today’s generation exists in a world where enemies, who have fought against each other for centuries, have learnt to come together.

“We live in a world where even the largest conglomerates are merging, whether it is in oil, in banking, in steel, in minerals, the pharmaceutical giants, telecoms and technology firms.  We, in the Caribbean, have to learn that we must seek to combine our strengths in order to succeed,” Mr. Patterson emphasised.

The two-day forum, held under the theme: ‘Making Connections, Building Businesses, Increasing Trade and Investment’ attracted some 150 delegates from the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states and Europe.

Organised by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export), in collaboration with the ACP Business Climate facility (BizClim), the conference sought to enhance partnerships between Caribbean businesses and those in Europe, enable public-private dialogue, and support the business climate reform agenda in the Caribbean.

Mr. Patterson, in his presentation, welcomed the focus on public-private partnership for the region’s development.

He argued that, to be most effective in extracting benefits from the EPA or other agreements, “the Caribbean public sector must also work with the Caribbean private sector so that it can have a fair shot at capitalising on opportunities.”

He said that these include establishing joint ventures and strategic economic partnerships with the geopolitical neighbours in Central and South America and emerging economies such as India and Brazil.

“The Caribbean public sector, instead of always finding a way to say no to development, must find a way to say yes and to facilitate development, because without that, none of the economies will realise the benefits, which will otherwise accrue from the Economic Partnership Agreements or any other form of economic and trade relationships which our negotiators conclude,” Mr. Patterson argued.

He expressed the hope that the conference “will spark a new beginning as we make that paradigm shift to tell the world that CARIFORUM countries are ready to compete.”

The EPA, between the EU and the ACP regions, is aimed at promoting trade between the two groupings, in order to achieve sustainable growth and poverty reduction.