PM Calls for Mechanisms to Ease Debt Burden of Middle Income Countries

Prime Minister Bruce Golding has called on the United States to join with other developed countries to explore mechanisms that could be put in place to ease the burden of heavily indebted middle income countries, such as Jamaica. He pointed out that the imbalance in the debt to GDP ratio was crippling the capacity of Jamaica to achieve meaningful and sustained economic growth and development.
The Prime Minister was speaking on December 4 at the plenary dinner of a three-day conference on the Caribbean, held at the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Miami. The theme of the conference was: ‘A region poised for growth’. Mr. Golding stressed that something had to be done to address the indebtedness of middle income countries, and proposed that international financial institutions and governments of developed countries explore ways of addressing this critical concern.
On the challenges facing CARICOM’s trading relationship with the United States, the Prime Minister said the time of non-reciprocal preferential trade arrangements, such as the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), was drawing to a close, and noted that the USA had failed to secure an extension of the waiver for the CBI in the World Trade Organization (WTO). He reminded that the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act was due to expire in September 2008.
He said the USA should recognize that it needed to play a positive role in the development of the region, recognizing the interdependency of the USA and countries such as those in CARICOM, sitting on its so-called ‘Third Border’.
Mr. Golding said Jamaica did not want to appear as a mendicant, but the disparity in the levels of development had to be taken into consideration in any future trade arrangements. He further challenged the conference participants to collaborate in formulating an agenda for development, which would be mutually beneficial.
Regarding Jamaica’s development, the Prime Minister said that in spite of the challenges, the nation was making considerable strides in positioning itself for growth.
Citing the country’s unique geographical position and the attendant advantages, he emphasized that Jamaica was alive with opportunities, adding that there were already improvements to the physical and telecommunications infrastructure and in the streamlining of the public service to create an improved environment for investment.
While much is needed to be done to improve the country’s competitiveness, the Prime Minister pointed to the fact that of 177 countries, Jamaica ranked 60 in the world competitiveness index. He said that Jamaica was not only open, but was hungry for business and was ready to do all that was necessary to improve its business environment.

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