JA Statesman P J Patterson supports Diaspora initiative

| June 8, 2016

By David F. Roberts

This is part 1 of a 2 part article. The ‘Unite Caribbean’ road show which is taking the message of Caribbean unification to Caribbean residents of the United States and Europe sponsored by Grace Kennedy and Western Union has landed in England.

This initiative which has delivered some five events across the United States in 2015 seeks to bring together some 11 Caribbean countries politically and economically with a view to building positive partnerships intended to stimulate growth and ultimately long-term regional stability.

The high powered delegation which includes former Jamaica Prime Minister Hon. P J Patterson ON, PC, QC, OE met with approximately 750 Caribbean nationals in Birmingham on Tuesday 7th June 2016 as part of a two day visit to the UK.

Hon. P J Patterson reviewing his notes prior to interview. Photo courtesy CaribDirect

Hon. P J Patterson reviewing his notes prior to interview. Photo courtesy CaribDirect

Ahead of their final meeting tomorrow at the Camden Town Hall, Judd St, London C1H 9JE., CaribDirect Multi-Media’s resident journalist and founder, David F. Roberts caught up with the Honourable P J Patterson at a London hotel for a quick chat on this unique project.

The Prime Minister outlined the strategy for the meetings by confirming the focus last year (2015) was to meet with members of the Diaspora or migrant communities in Canada and the United States with the focus for 2016 being migrant communities in the United Kingdom.

PM Patterson pointed out that the central objective of reaching out to these communities is primarily to allow Grace Kennedy and Western Union to engage with entrepreneurs and others to get a sense of the level and character of entrepreneurial activity highlighting areas for investment within many sectors including the cultural industries and social sectors. Opportunities in health, education and human development are are also of interest, all with a view toward creating constructive partnerships between the Diaspora and the countries of their origin.

Hon. P J Patterson just prior to interview. Photo courtesy CaribDirect

Hon. P J Patterson just prior to interview. Photo courtesy CaribDirect

When asked about the feeling that some in the Diaspora share about the initiative being solely for the benefit of Jamaicans given Grace Kennedy’s and Western Union’s intimate involvement as sponsors, the former Prime Minister was unequivocal in his response by stressing these companies do not have a monopoly or exclusivity on the effort to bring about a better Caribbean for us all. He insists that any company across the region and in the Diaspora interested in effecting this change can enlist and or initiate a similar project.

Honourable Patterson further stated that at times it is more prudent to look at the ‘nature and scope of the operations of a company rather than the place of its founding’ to determine the true commitment to the stated cause or venture.

Hon. P J Patterson at interview with CaribDirect. Photo courtesy CaribDirect

Hon. P J Patterson at interview with CaribDirect. Photo courtesy CaribDirect

He said opportunities abound across the Caribbean and should be accessible by people from the Diaspora regardless of where they originate from for the ultimate benefit of the region. The PM alluded to CARICOM (Caribbean Common Market) as a trading block established to facilitate and encourage cross border trade and investment, more particularly with the advent of digital technology. He mentioned CARICOM Enterprise as the entity within CARICOM responsible for overseeing the environment that engenders free trade and investment without national or other discrimination.

On the matter of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy PM Patterson was emphatic in clarifying the notion that the entity has failed. He agreed that the CARICOM Single Economy has not blossomed in the way the founders had envisaged for varying reasons but assured us that the Single Market is indeed operational in spite of some ‘units’ that may not have adequately participated. Hon. Patterson affirmed, ‘The Single Market is not reserved for trading in goods only but for trade in services as well. it is an area of increasing emphasis, not only globally but in the Caribbean.’

Part 2 of this article will be published after tomorrow’s Camden Town Hall event. For more details and to register for tickets for the London Town Hall meeting click HERE.

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