EDITORIAL: Jamaica’s overtures a benefit to all
THE NEWS REPORTS emanating from Kingston suggest Jamaica may be shifting to a more pragmatic position on relations with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). While we await clarity on Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ new vision, we hope it is embraced and shared by his Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
For many years the JLP has been the source of rumblings and lots of wayward talk that always clearly suggested it was not embracing Jamaica’s smaller fellow CARICOM nations to the south.
The JLP’s pessimism towards the Caribbean over a sustained period has been unwarranted, given that there are more things uniting the region than dividing it. We believe it is time that politicians and the few misguided individuals stop playing these silly games. The one thing we do not need in CARICOM is xenophobia.
A political party that forms the government is quite different from one that sits as the opposition. This is a point which Holness may have quickly recognised while grappling with the realities he faces, including relations with CARICOM. The regional market, despite its small size, cannot be dismissed, especially now that North America and Britain are virtually closed.
So the Jamaican calls to boycott Trinidad and Tobago because of the huge trade imbalances or to do the same to other Caribbean countries because of the alleged ill-treatment meted out to Jamaicans at airports region-wide and the arguments advanced against the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) are all weak responses.
Jamaica must accept that too many of its people who travel south rightly end up in jail and that is a worrisome trend which must be curtailed. That country must also understand that access to markets is going to be based on price and products, so it does not have any special entitlement within CARICOM because of its size.
The region needs Jamaica in the fight against correspondent banking as it did with Britain’s air passenger duty and it must also be on board on matters ranging from crime and security to disaster response and food security. All these require a united CARICOM position.
The Eastern Caribbean has been a good investment hub for Jamaican businesses as any testimony from Sandals, NCB Capital Markets or Grace Kennedy will indicate. But the links go deeper and wider as highlighted by the number of Jamaican entertainers who regularly earn substantial paydays in Barbados, while other nationals find employment in diverse areas. Barbados also has much to offer Jamaica by way of investing there and offering trade in services.
It is in Barbados’ interest for there to be a united and strong Caribbean beyond West Indies cricket and the University of the West Indies. We eagerly look forward to Jamaica joining the CCJ and more of its businesses investing and expanding in this subregion. That is why we are happy to see Prime Minister Holness’ outreach to his CARICOM neighbours. It can only redound to the benefit of Jamaica – and the rest of the region.