Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis – June 28th, 2007 (CUOPM)
There is now a much better understanding and appreciation by the United States on the urgency of the steps that are required to expand the economic opportunities for the Caribbean people. So says St. Kitts and Nevis‘ Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas.
He told Colleague Heads of Government, United States government officials, Ambassadors and public and private sector experts there is also much better understanding and appreciation of the efforts being made on the part of the Caribbean to expand the service sector, in particular the international financial service sector as a prerequisite for economic diversification and enhanced competitiveness.
“It is for this reason that we have underscored the importance of the renewal of the Caribbean Basin Promotion Act and a revitalization of the Trade and Investment Council,” said Prime Minister Douglas, who said that the region continue to emphasise that with the Caribbean accounting for approximately 0.5 percent of total world trade, “any concession provided by USA is hardly likely to have any significant affect on the global economy.”
“We in the Community mindful of the need to level the playing field among the participating countries have established a Development Fund to provide assistance for the lesser developed countries. This is targeted as another possible area for consideration by USA for partnership in strengthening the regional enterprise,” said Prime Minister Douglas.He said the dialogue in Washington, D.C. “has really contributed to a better understanding on the part of the USA of the deleterious effects of the brain drain on the economies of the Caribbean and the validity of the proposals for some form of compensation from beneficiary countries like to USA for the investment of training of professionals and skilled labour.”
Prime Minister Douglas said that the Caribbean Heads of Government came to Washington D.C to forge partnership and collaboration with the USA in the areas of trade, reduction in the demand for drugs, broker a policy of managed migration and compensation for the export of its skilled labour to the USA, on enhancement of human resources by investing in education, science and technology, disaster management, energy and research and development among others.
He said that the Caribbean Community also highlighted in its discourse the many achievements on which it continues to build a viable community of Sovereign States.
The establishment of the Single Market in 2006, the Caribbean Court of Justice in 2004, and the movement toward the final phases of establishment of the Single Economy by 2008 are all elements of tremendous advances in the deepening of the regional integration process that would have been conceived as impossible judging from the skepticism of regionalism rooted in the failure of the West Indies Federation over 40 years ago,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
He said that the Caribbean Community brought evidence of the institutional processes that have been consolidated in the increase in the free movement of persons accompanied by procedures for accreditation of skills not only from tertiary levels but through the creation of new certification models such as Caribbean vocational qualifications.
“The trend that is being established is one in which, through cooperation among training agencies, an industry led competency based approach is driven by occupational standards. The emphasis here is on technical and vocational education and school to work transition,” said Prime Minister Douglas, who pointed out that at the tertiary level, the Caribbean in the 1990s had estimated the need for 15 percent of its population to hold university certification.
“Since that time the figure has been revised upwards to 25 percent in order for the Region to provide the required skills to manage its development process and to compete in the international labour market,” said Prime Minister Douglas, who added: “In this regard while we upgrade the facilities at the Region’s universities, we are aware of Congressional support of the need for partnerships with colleges and universities in the USA to assist in the facilitation of access to tertiary level educational opportunities through scholarships for educators and students.”
Dr. Douglas said that the Caribbean leaders were pleased at a proposal that emerged at the Diaspora Forum for collaboration between USA and Caribbean with experts in the field of Science and especially since CARICOM has placed emphasis on connectivity of its Universities and Community Colleges through the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network with the use of ICT to enhance the sharing an upgrading of resources across the Region.