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KINGSTON — Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Dr. Kenneth Baugh, has emphasised the need for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to do more to demonstrate the positives that are happening in the region.

This, he said, is in response to the public perception that the Community is failing and that there is "an implementation deficit."

"Most of this negative perception is bolstered by the complexity of the integration process," the Minister noted.

Dr. Baugh was speaking at the World Federation of Consuls (FICAC) Caribbean Regional Consular Conference, held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, in Kingston on July 25, under the theme: 'Enhancing Intra-Caribbean Relations'.

"Our political will must forge stronger ties in foreign policy co-ordination, functional co-operation and enhanced trading relations," he argued, while using the opportunity to congratulate Ambassador Irwin LaRocque on his appointment as the new Secretary General of CARICOM.

"We look forward to the new energy which the new Secretary General for CARICOM will bring to the post, and to the organisational review of the CARICOM Secretariat, which will set the stage for new and better management of the integration-building project," he said.

Turning to the matter of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), Dr. Baugh noted that since the signing of the agreement in 2001, some 6,000 skills certificates have been issued as part of the facilitation of movement of skilled and semi- skilled labour.

However, he pointed out that much work needs to be done to grasp the potential for enhancing trade and attracting investments, both within the region and external to the region.

Dr. Baugh said he "remains bullish" that there are opportunities which the local private sector, including small and micro-enterprises, must seize if Jamaica is to attain its Vision 2030 objectives.

Vision 2030 Jamaica is the country's first long-term national development plan, which aims at enabling the country to achieve developed country status by 2030.  It is based on a comprehensive vision:  "Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business."                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Meanwhile, the Minister said Haiti must remain on the agenda of members of the Community, to continue the post-earthquake reconstruction process. "We must work with President Miguel Martelly and his elected officials to bring our full weight behind their efforts at rebuilding and crafting a new and better future for themselves. The international donor community must be encouraged to continue to help in this regard," he told the gathering of Ambassadors and other consular officials.

The FICAC was established in 1982 in Copenhagen, Denmark, to bring together consular corps and associations, share experiences and co-ordinate efforts to enhance the effectiveness and status of the Consul. The Federation is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.

By Alphea Saunders, JIS Reporter