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OCHO RIOS — Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Dr. Kenneth Baugh, says the Diaspora continues to be a critical partner in the country’s development.

The Minister, who was speaking at the official opening ceremony of the Jamaican Diaspora Convention, now underway at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort in Ocho Rios, said that the contribution of overseas Jamaicans goes well beyond remittances and the welcome support in response to natural disasters.

“It includes the potential for investment and entrepreneurship for business ventures; a valuable source of academic and technical expertise; a strong basis for building tourism and trade and an influential network of activists in the main centres of decision-making in the capitals of their host countries.

“In the Diaspora, you are ideally placed and you have been playing an important role in increasing Jamaica’s trade in the countries where you live.  Investments that originate in the Diaspora and are directed to various sectors in Jamaica are sizeable,” he stated.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte, in welcoming the approximately 400 participants from the United States of America, Canada, and the United Kingdom and across the island, stressed the need for Jamaicans to work in partnership for the welfare of the nation.

Noting the theme of the conference: ‘One Nation: Jamaica and its Diaspora in Partnership,’ she said that it served as a reminder that all Jamaicans, whether residing on the island or abroad, “we constitute one nation and so should seek to work together”.

“Our common interest is to move Jamaica forward through positive partnership. Our aim is to find more creative ways to strengthen this partnership to which we are devoting ourselves,” she stated.

Senator Malahoo Forte, who has responsibility for Diaspora matters, said she was pleased that the agenda for the convention was developed in consultation with the overseas nationals.

She said that progress made in discussions on important governance issues tabled at the Diaspora Advisory Board Meeting on May 15, was a sign of what is to come.

“We can appropriately view Diaspora Convention 2011 as a precursor of what is to come. The year 2012 will mark a huge milestone in the life in of our nation and it will provide an occasion to showcase the very best of Jamaica,” she said, welcoming the many participants.

 

By ALDEEN CAMPBELL, JIS Reporter