JIS News

Governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, has said that he will be setting up trade missions to the region, as part of efforts to strengthen trade relations between the United States and CARICOM.
Governor Crist, who made the announcement during a meeting with Caribbean Consuls General in the Southern United States, held recently at the State Capitol in Tallahassee, said that the trade missions will begin with the larger markets of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. Jamaica’s Consul General to Miami, Ricardo Allicock, who is also chair of the CARICOM Diplomatic Corp in South Florida, told JIS News that the meeting at the State Capitol, which included discussions with Director of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development, Dr. Dale Brill and Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Gerald M. Bailey, was very successful.
He said the delegation was reassured that, at the highest level of the state, there was strong interest in partnering with CARICOM and its Diaspora.Coming out of the meeting, was an agreement to look at ways in which the state could incorporate cultural events, such as the annual Caribbean Carnival and Jerk Festival, in the general roster of tourist attractions in Florida.
According to Mr. Allicock, discussions centered around CARICOM’s trade relationship with Florida, the positive impact of the Caribbean business community on Florida’s economy, education initiatives, technical cooperation, and immigration matters.
Regarding education, the delegation expressed to the Governor, the need to provide Caribbean students with greater access to scholarships to educational institutions throughout the state.
On the matter of immigration, the delegation pointed out to the Governor that the Caribbean community was being negatively impacted by a number of immigration policies, especially deportation.
On law enforcement, Governor Crist lauded the joint programmes between the FDLE and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), and indicated that further seminars will be hosted for senior law enforcement officers in Florida, to sensitize them of the cultural nuances of the Caribbean community.
The discussions also focused on environmental management with emphasis on cooperation in disaster preparedness and coastal management.
Mr. Allicock said that there was an agreement for follow-up meetings “hopeful that there would be appreciable and positive results over the next year.” The CARICOM delegation included Alma Adams of Bahamas; Gerard Greene, Trinidad and Tobago; Ralph Latortue, Haiti; Ian Sweeney, Antigua and Phillip St. Hill of Barbados.
Nearly one million nationals of Caribbean descent reside in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties in South Florida. Caribbean nationals continue to impact positively on the economy of the United States as they hold positions in corporate leadership, public service, academia, and private enterprises such as law, medicine, real estate and the media. Seven Jamaicans hold elected positions in South Florida.