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Prime Minister Bruce Golding is calling for a more clearly defined framework for the Aid -for- Trade (AFT) programme and he says there is also need for clarity as to the relationship and the impact of trade provisions with bilateral arrangements.
Addressing the second Latin America and the Caribbean regional review on Aid- for- Trade at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Montego Bay yesterday,(May 7) Mr. Golding said that within Aid- for-Trade there is still a disproportionate emphasis on the capacity to administer trade rather than the capacity to enhance and benefit from that enhancement. Aid-for-Trade seeks to help developing countries to expand their trade and build the supply-side capacity and trade-related infrastructure needed to benefit from World Trade Organsation (WTO) agreements.
‘Countries which need to benefit from this, need to do much more than we have been prepared to do up to now .Our priorities have not been aligned with the global trading realities. We have not made sufficient effort to sensitize our private sector on the critical leadership role they will need to play in that process,’ Mr. Golding said.
In the case of Jamaica, Mr. Golding said the private sector has not been as responsive nor as perceptive of this reality, much of which has to do with our own configuration. Mr. Golding said Jamaica has had to maintain monetary policies that discourage the private sector from looking in the direction in which it should. The country is so heavily indebted and so dependent on private sector financing, that government papers continue to be the safest investment.
‘Who wants to invest in areas that would exploit opportunities in global trade if you can invest right here at home for high returns and low risks?’ Mr. Golding argued. ‘Aid- For-Trade has to include a sufficiently significant component to address deficiencies such as education and training. We are not going to be able to compete with anybody unless we have a competitive, competent labour force. The quality of our education, the quality of our post-secondary training facilities, the extent to which we are equipping our workers in order to be able to attract and sustain the kind of investment that needs to be made, require far greater emphasis than they have received up to now’. Mr. Golding noted.
He said there is a mindset that has to be changed. ‘We need to look at this in an enterprising way, focusing on the opportunities that are there and prepare ourselves to exploit them’.
The two day Aid-for-Trade high level review meeting ends today. It’s objectives are to monitor progress in the implementation of the AFT initiative, continue to support the mainstreaming of trade into national and regional development agendas, foster regional approach and private sector strategies and promote co-ordination among donors and relevant institutions in the implementation of the AFT in the region. The review is a joint event organized by the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Trade Organisation with the support of the government of Jamaica.