Sir Shridath Ramphal Chancellor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies said Jamaica continues to play a major role in the international arena and had assumed the position of leader in the process of solidarity among developing nations. He was speaking on Tuesday (Jan. 24,) at a panel discussion organized by the Cabinet Office to explore the topic: Jamaica in the International Arena: Leader or Follower.
The former Secretary General of the British Commonwealth said he would like to see a CARICOM country preferably Jamaica, play a more active role in the Group of 22 countries as all the work could not be left to Cuba alone. He said that while much of the responsibilities have been discharged by the government, the local private sector which must now function in a globalised world must play its part in helping the country adjust to that world. He acknowledged the private sector’s role in discharging its own leadership responsibilities, noting that it was the Manufacturers Association which in 1968 demanded that the government join CARIFTA.
He pointed out that the Caribbean had special interests to further and that these would best be advanced by the presence of the countries of the region within the Councils of developing country negotiating groups. He noted that the work on special and differential treatment particularly for small and developing states have paid dividends as the need for special efforts to assist small and medium sized enterprises have been acknowledged.
Sir Shridath said this was not a substitute for a special place for small economies in negotiated trade regimes within the European Union or the World Trade Organization, but stressed that a policy of differential treatment should be fully cultivated. He observed that Jamaica was once again poised for leadership in this regard. “In short, we have active roles to play. It will not be enough merely to be part of the squad; we must be seen on the pitch. Jamaica is our lead player in this process,” Sir Shridath said. He said the Caribbean must exercise collective responsibility for securing its place in the global economy and for securing a global economy that has a place for the region. He said CARICOM should build on the alliances that presently exist and engage the global negotiations and that this should be done from a position of maximum unity in the Caribbean. This he asserted meant going forward assiduously with the Single Market and Economy and with those elements of regional governance already agreed at the CARICOM 30th anniversary summit from which emanated the Rose Hall Declaration.
“No one is looking out for us, not in Europe, not in the Americas, not on the global scene. We have to look out for ourselves, including developing those strategic alliances that are essential to the building of our negotiating strength,” Sir Shridath stated. Other speakers at the panel included Professor Kenneth Hall, Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of the West Indies and Senator Delano Franklyn, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.