WASHINGTON DC, July 20, 2022 - Opposition Leader and Peoples National Party President Mark Golding, says one of the biggest failures of the Holness administration has been “the extent to which well-established principles, which have long served Jamaica’s interests well in our international relations, have been subordinated to opportunistic, divisive pandering to external interests.”
Delivering the main address on “The Future of Caribbean Regional Integration” at a forum hosted by the Washington DC based Caribbean Research and Policy Center at theHilton DoubleTree Hotel in Silver Springs, Maryland, Mr. Golding lamented that “Jamaica’s willingness to depart from the principle of collective action in international affairs have created tensions within our region, at a time when greater cooperation and effective collective action are needed.”
“As we face an increasingly challenging global environment, the need for our government to protect the interests of Jamaicans at home by building meaningful relationships abroad, could not be more apparent.
“Unfortunately, in recent years Jamaica has too often been missing in action from the heart of regional deliberations on the pressing issues of our time. Jamaica has been noticeably absent from the centre of the recent Caribbean initiatives towards stronger integration,” Mr. Golding declared.
Golding, who was in Washington on the third leg of his United States Four City Diaspora Tour, told the large audience that “We see this as a missed opportunity. Our absence can only weaken the effectiveness of CARICOM, given our historic position of leadership in the region,” he noted.
“Indeed, under the PNP Jamaica has stood for consistent adherence to progressive democratic principles in furtherance of the strategic interests of the developing world. We deal with other nations on the basis of sovereign equality and diplomatic common sense. Jamaica has thus been able to successfully mediate our encounters with the other nations of the world,” noted Golding.
“We have never reaped substantial benefits from genuflection to international superpowers. On the contrary, we have made solid gains when Jamaica has strengthened to pursue a common cause by providing leadership at the political, diplomatic and technical levels within CARICOM, the OAS, the UN, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Commonwealth,” he said.
“At the same time,” he cautioned, “we recognize the importance and immense value of Jamaica’s long standing partnership with Washington, which is based on mutual respect and consistent adherence to the principles which have beneficially guided our friendly relations.”
“Happily, there are far more instances where our interests coincide than there is divergence. We will continue to work collaboratively in furthering our common interests, based on our shared democratic ideals and our deep linkages,” Golding noted.
The Jamaican Opposition Leader observed that “Our Caribbean friends have redefined themselves as frontline states in the battle against climate change, and have made an impact through powerful advocacy for new international financing modalities for investments in climate adaptation and mitigation. Jamaica’s voice in this global conversation has been muted,” he said.
“As regional politics shifts towards more assertive action, it is time for Jamaica to return to the centre of this change. CARICOM needs institutional transformation to become more agile and responsive, and Jamaica should be a positive force for change,” Golding emphasized.
The PNP leader said he was heartened by the decision taken at the recent Heads of Government meeting, to adopt the CARICOM Commission on the Economy’s recommendation to allow action on trade and integration matters, if as few as five of the fifteen member states wish to move ahead, as long as the others are not disadvantaged.
He said Jamaica should grasp the opportunity to support and give impetus to the new reforms and ideas. “We must seize this opportunity and help to lead CARICOM to becoming a more vibrant, vital community. Friendship and relationships require presence, and Jamaica has been absent for too long,” Mr. Golding observed.
Turning to the Region’s relationship with the Diaspora, Golding noted that “the Caribbean Diaspora is an important force for regional unity. CARICOM, as a maturing regional integration entity, needs a mechanism to harness the support of our Caribbean people in the Diaspora.”
He pointed out that “CARICOM is yet to devise a formal methodology for tapping the overseas capital markets through making attractively packaged investment financing instruments available to the Caribbean Diaspora.”
“Such capital flows could be directed towards critical development needs in the region, including the modernizing and expanding of regional air and sea transport. The multiplier effect that such a development would provide to regional trade and economic development would be significant.”
On the topic of Food Security, Mr. Golding welcomed “the move by CARICOM to invest in Vision 2025, which aims to decrease our regional food import bill by 25% by 2025. It is noteworthy that the recently-formed associate institution of CARICOM, the Caribbean Private Sector Organization (CPSO), has played a catalytic role in formulating this target. I salute the regional leaders who have stepped up to take this initiative forward.”
“In this new world of profound shocks, we need to forge new and resilient relationships. The bold Vision 25 initiative seeks to boost agricultural production and strengthen food security in the region through the injection of financial capital in the sector, removing trade barriers, and the establishment of a reliable system of intra-regional transportation, Golding said.”
The vast and fertile lands of Belize, Guyana and Suriname are on our doorstep. Potential synergies exist, as the region could benefit greatly from Jamaican management, technical expertise and potential to mobilize finance capital.
Similarly, in this new world of energy insecurity, the natural gas of Trinidad, Guyana and Suriname could be essential to a reduced carbon footprint, even as we seek to transition to a fossil fuel-free future. This can be achieved through regional integration and cooperation,” Golding declared.
Golding and his delegation comprising Party Chair Dr. Angels Brown Burke, and General Secretary Dr. Dayton Campbell Opposition Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora Matters Lisa Hanna among other party officials, while in Washington, met with Chair of the powerful US House Finance Committee which has jurisdiction over International Finance institutions, Representative Maxine Waters as well as member of the Homeland Security and the House Commerce and Energy Committee, Jamaican American Congresswoman Yvette Clarke.
Both Congresswomen are Co-Chairs of the House Caribbean Caucus as well as senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus and were instrumental in re-booting the Jamaican economy during the Simpson-Miller administration.