Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding has welcomed Canada’s support for the inclusion of a development component in the proposed Canada/CARICOM Free Trade Agreement.
“We insisted, from the very beginning, that we cannot just negotiate a trade agreement, it has to be a trade agreement plus. It must have a development component, because we are not in a position to compete with Canada as an equal partner,” Mr. Golding explained.
“They are far more industrialised than we are, they’re far more efficient at production than we are and, although there was some resistance at the beginning, they have now agreed to include a development component,” he declared, while touring the Jamaica Military Air School, in Kingston, with visiting Canadian Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon Stephen Harper, on Monday evening (April 20).
Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Hon. Bruce Golding (second left), and Prime Minister of Canada, the Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper (third left), look on as Commanding Officer of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF)Air Wing, Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Roper (right), talks about one of the Wing’s aircraft. At left is Chief of Staff of the JDF, Major General Stewart Saunders. Occasion was a tour of the Jamaica Military Aviation School (JMAS) on Monday (April 20).
Prime Minister Harper, in an historical speech to a Joint Sitting of Jamaica’s Houses of Parliament at Gordon House, earlier Monday (April 20), called on CARICOM to “cut through the bureaucratic, diplomatic and political red tape” and move forward on the proposed Agreement.
“Let’s get it done,” the Canadian leader urged, while suggesting that Jamaica was “uniquely positioned to lead the way to ensure that CARICOM is a full part of the hemispheric and global economic system.”
Monday evening (April 20), Mr. Golding returned the compliment, noting that the “intertwining of the fortunes of developed and developing countries” was essential to the success of such co-operation.
“I think Canada has a very clear appreciation of this, and we’ve seen it in the discussions that are leading up to the negotiations towards a Caribbean Community (CARICOM)/Canada free trade agreement,” the Jamaican Prime Minister said.
“Developing countries provide the market for a substantial amount of the output of the developed countries. If developing countries were to decide that they were going to stop purchasing goods from the developed countries, for one month, you would have a global crisis,” Mr. Golding argued.
However, he said that Canada was prepared to make an investment in strengthening the capacity of developing countries to be able to purchase more of its goods.
“If they improve the standard of living in places like Jamaica, if they help to attract investment, if they improve our productive capability, then it means that, whereas, in the past maybe we would buy one (product) from them, we’ll be able to buy two, so that their economy will be better off,” Mr. Golding offered.
He highlighted the strong relationship between Canada and Jamaica, as being very beneficial to Jamaica’s development, and noted the special interest Prime Minister Harper has shown in the Caribbean.
“I think, in Prime Minister Stephen Harper, we have a real friend. All Canadian Prime Ministers have been good to Jamaica, but I think he has a special interest,” Mr. Golding commented.
Mr. Golding also pointed out that Canada has provided C$600 million for CARICOM over the next 10 years, to assist in developing each country’s productive capability.
He said that Jamaica has several priority areas that the Canadians could assist with, including the high cost of energy, building the nation’s human capability and infrastructural development.
In the meantime, he acknowledged Canada’s support for the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), as another example of the strong Jamaica/Canada ties.
“The Canadians have really been exemplary in their assistance to the military and this goes back a long time…forty years of co-operation between the Canadian military authorities and our own. They helped us to establish the Air Wing, for example, they’ve helped us with pilot training, and they’ve helped us with strategic support for our military,” Mr. Golding said.
The Jamaica Military Air School, run by the JDF Air Wing, receives funding from the Canadian Government.
Prime Minister Harper left Jamaica Tuesday, April 21 after a two-day working visit.