JIS News

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Anthony Hylton has said that the Conference on the Caribbean to be held in Washington from June 19 to 21 is timely as it comes at a time when the Caribbean is “grappling with a raft of challenges arising from rapid globalization.”
Senator Hylton, who was speaking at the opening of a two-day seminar on ‘Jamaica’s (CARICOM) Future Trade Relationship with the United States of America’ at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus on May 9 explained that, “the Caribbean is operating in an environment driven by competition, information and technology and requiring major adjustments in education and values and attitudes.” As a result he said “the region is confronted with the need to forge a new set of relationships with the United States, its main trading partner in the global economy, as well as with Europe, Canada and key developing countries”.
The conference, he said, “provides a unique opportunity for the Caribbean and the United States to jointly review, assess and redirect the relations between the two regions as well as their cooperation in the international community.”
According to the Minister, the Caribbean and the United States have a long history of mutually supportive and beneficial relations, sharing common values, common borders and common challenges.
The recognition of these common interests has traditionally shaped the policies and perspectives of the two regions towards each other, Senator Hylton noted. However, he noted, critical indicators have suggested that this relationship has weakened significantly since the 1990’s.
“There is a seeming disconnect between the objective need for greater cohesiveness in the relations between the two regions and the tensions from the increasing disadvantageous or insensitive treatment of the Caribbean in several aspects of US policies,” he explained.
“We do not think that these are deliberate actions against the Caribbean, they are more likely the result of a stable relationship wearing thin from lack of specific attention,” he continued, adding that based on the importance of the relationship, there is an urgent need to establish a framework for continuous attention.
The conference will see the 15 CARICOM Heads of State/Government in talks with the United States President, George W. Bush and Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
The meetings will highlight a wide range of issues affecting the Caribbean and is intended to establish the highest political commitment on behalf of the United States and CARICOM Member States to a consensus-based programme to stimulate growth, development and enhanced security in the region. The two-day seminar at the UWI was aimed at garnering information from members of the private sector, which will help to guide Jamaica’s position on trade issues at the conference.

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