Summit coming to Kingston

From the Jamaica Gleaner – Economist and former CARICOM Secretary General Sir Alister McIntyre, City University of New York Professor Don Robotham and former Prime Minister of Barbados Owen Arthur will be among the presenters at the Public Forum on the Caribbean Agenda for the Summit of the Americas. The forum is to be held on Wednesday, March 25, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston.

With the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression now under way, the seminar aims to examine its impact on people of the region and develop policy options to address it. This is in order to provide clear regional positions at the fifth Summit of the Americas to be held in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, from April 17-19.

One issue to be considered is the need for developed countries to commit to a new economic stimulus facility at the IMF/World Bank. Additionally, the financial meltdown points to the need for global capital movements to be regulated and IMF/World Bank conditionalities modified to benefit poorer countries.

The discussion will also cover the need for the Economic Partnership Agreement with Europe to be modified to account for regional concerns.

This is a critical time to consider this issue as United States President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are scheduled to visit Trinidad and Tobago for the summit. The administration will attempt to showcase its new policy direction before the democratically elected heads of state from hemispheric countries.

In a ‘New Partnership for the Americas’ document, President Obama says that “it is time for a new alliance of the Americas”. He stated that this should leave behind “eight years of failed policies” and “top-down reforms”, and put forward instead an “agenda that advances democracy, security and opportunity from the bottom up”.

The new openness of the US Government leads to the possibility of major improvements in hemispheric relations and the Government of Jamaica has already indicated that it will participate in the dialogue. Prime Minister Bruce Golding has expressed the ‘fervent hope’ that the interests of developing countries like Jamaica will be part of a US policy framework of the new Obama administration.

A non-sectarian, non-partisan group, the Roxborough Institute has been formed with a view to stimulating Jamaican nationhood. According to Peter Phillips, who will chair the forum, the institute intends to include all sectors of the economy and the society as it aims to accomplish its work through seminars, discussion groups, lectures and publications.

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