Em­brace Op­por­tu­ni­ties of New Cuba-US Re­la­tions: For­mer Ja­maican PM Tells EU-CARIFORUM Busi­ness Fo­rum

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL - Mark Thomas and Clin­ton Pick­er­ing re­port­ing from Mon­tego Bay

For­mer Ja­maican Prime Min­is­ter P.J. Pat­ter­son has chal­lenged the Caribbean to em­brace the warm­ing of re­la­tions be­tween the United States of Amer­ica and Cuba as open­ing up new op­por­tu­ni­ties for the re­gion, par­tic­u­larly in trade and tourism.

Pat­ter­son was de­liv­er­ing the key­note ad­dress to the 3rd CARIFORUM-EU Busi­ness Fo­rum hosted by the Caribbean Ex­port Devel­op­ment Agency (Caribbean Ex­port) and held in the re­sort city at the Hil­ton Rose Hall Re­sort & Spa in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the ACP Busi­ness Cli­mate fa­cil­ity (BizClim). He painted a vi­sion of CARIFORUM in in­ter­na­tional trade re­la­tions with Cuba as an in­te­gral part of the Caribbean. With a pop­u­la­tion of ap­prox­i­mately 37 mil­lion, the re­gion would have an ex­pan­sive eco­nomic zone with var­i­ous ad­van­tages, among them, con­trol­ling very sig­nif­i­cant sea and air routes.

Pat­ter­son, who is also a for­mer Min­is­ter of Tourism, sees the new Caribbean as a large tourist area be­ing able “to ex­er­cise real con­trol over the berths for one-half of the world’s cruise ships.”

It would also be a boost to build­ing a cre­ative in­dus­try with few gaps. “The in­clu­sion of Cuba would strengthen greatly the ed­u­ca­tional and health in­fra­struc­ture. It would in­crease the depth and di­ver­sity of the cre­ative and other touris­tic of­fer­ings,” he ad­vised.

The Ja­maican states­man told the CARIFORUM par­tic­i­pants that a re­de­fined Caribbean “would be a pow­er­house in world sports, not just in the sprints in world ath­let­ics, and in the world’s mu­sic in­dus­try, but also as a cen­tre, not a backup for the movie in­dus­try.”

An­other ma­jor plus is that the Caribbean con­trols a not too in­signif­i­cant part of the world’s marine and ter­res­trial bio­di­ver­sity for the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and food in­dus­tries.

“The main rec­om­men­da­tion for the States of the Re­gion is for them to see a big pic­ture – the re­gion as a unit to deal with the world – not as frag­ments to be ex­ploited by the rest of the world. They must see the Caribbean as a com­ple­men­tary force for ex­ter­nal com­pe­ti­tion and not as parts for in­ter­nal com­pe­ti­tion”, said Pat­ter­son.

He de­clared that the time had come to en­ter a new fron­tier to se­cure the re­gion’s full share of an area of soar­ing global growth, “the Knowl­edge Econ­omy” – which he de­scribed as a niche an­chored by cul­tural her­itage, cre­ativ­ity, in­no­va­tion and su­perb tal­ents span­ning the range of arts, mu­sic, sports, an­i­ma­tion, fes­ti­vals, food, well­ness and the hos­pi­tal­ity trade.

PJ Pat­ter­son ad­dress­ing

EU-CARIFORUM.

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