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Jamaica has been strengthening and streamlining its representation abroad, in order to take maximum advantage of bilateral programmes and other opportunities.
Making his contribution to the State of the Nation Debate in the Senate on January 19, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Anthony Hylton said that, “Jamaica intends to, as resources will allow, to re-establish and open new Missions in the near future”.
“We have also been strengthening our network of Honorary Consuls. To date, we have 88 Honorary Consuls spread across the globe, who play an important auxiliary role in areas where we do not have diplomatic representation,” he pointed out. The Minister explained that later in the year, he would report on the re-establishment and opening of the new Missions.
In his wide ranging address, the Minister informed the Senate that Jamaica’s development was very dependent on international trade.
“This is true for many other small economies. In many years, total import and export of goods and services is greater than our total production. The rules that govern international trade are therefore important to us. These rules have been undergoing fundamental change, some of which have been detrimental to Jamaica,” said Senator Hylton.
He added that the new rules in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have already affected the country’s preferential arrangements in Europe for trade in banana and sugar. “Developing countries such as Jamaica are hard pressed to keep pace with the complex and challenging issues that are part of the new trade negotiating agenda which include intellectual property rights, trade and the environment, the burgeoning trade in services and the push for increased market access for agricultural and industrial goods,” Senator Hylton said.
The Minister said he was acutely aware of the cost if Jamaica was not fully engaged in these negotiations. “Our effectiveness, however, will be greatly facilitated by modern dynamic trade policy that ensures our national priorities,” he emphasised.
“We have sought to conduct our international negotiations and to build responsive trade policy with the support of key stakeholders and civil society. We recognize that the new challenges require deeper engagement with our stakeholders. In this regard, we will continue, wherever appropriate, to encourage stakeholder participation in the development of policy and as members of Jamaica’s delegation to regional and international meetings and negotiations,” the Minister said.