Senator the Honourable Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade says foreign and domestic debt of Highly Indebted Middle-Income Countries (HIMICs) is stifling economic development in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
During a high level meeting between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Foreign Ministers and the United States Deputy Secretary of State Mr. John Sullivan, Minister Johnson Smith lead the discussions under the Prosperity Pillar with particular focus on trade and investment and the plight of Highly Indebted Middle-Income countries (HIMMICs) like Jamaica. “The crippling effect of domestic and foreign debt in most of our economies highlights yet another hurdle to be overcome on the path to economic prosperity and development,” said Johnson Smith. The Minister pushed for further constructive dialogue on the issues, and called for the early convening of the Regional Trade and Investment Conference to explore viable opportunities for increasing bilateral trade and investment.
Under the US-Caribbean 2020 strategy dubbed “Caribbean 2020: A Multi-Year Strategy to Increase the Security, Prosperity, and Well-Being of the People of the United States and the Caribbean” the formal framework for the US engagement with countries within the region is outlined.
Johnson Smith spoke of the Caribbean’s position in relation to the US in the area of Energy security. She said, “the Caribbean’s position as the USA’s third border is one the clearest opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation”; She further stated, that “a secure CARICOM not only benefits the region’s citizens it benefits the USA’s citizens as well.”The Minister expressed appreciation to the US Government for maintaining the level of funding for the CBSI for the current financial year, and expressed the hope that the level of funding would continue into the next financial year.” She noted in the connection that “even greater cooperation is required, particularly in identifying the sources of the shipment of small arms and light weapons into the region”. Minister Johnson Smith reiterated the call for further cooperation and partnership with the Unites in the areas of: maritime security, assistance with reintegration and monitoring of deportees who have criminal backgrounds, and intelligence sharing.
Given the strategic importance of Energy to the region’s growth and development, Minister Johnson Smith conveyed appreciation for the tremendous assistance provided by the United States in this critical area over the last few years, noting the positive impact it has had on the country’s energy security programme. She expressed the hope that this area of cooperation will be further strengthened and expanded in the years ahead and invited the full support of the United States as Jamaica prepares to host the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) Meeting next November.
This was disclosed during the meeting held on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly held in New York.