New ambassador says US wants to trade more with Jamaica
Jamaica has the potential to become the dominant economy in the Caribbean, and it is the interest of the United States to see that happen, says newly appointed US Ambassador Luis Moreno.
He reaffirmed that Jamaica has his country’s ‘full support’ for reforms being undertaken under the four-year economic programme with the International Monetary Fund.
Speaking at a reception hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce Jamaica in Stony Hill, St Andrew, Moreno said he recognised that sacrifices have been made by the Jamaican people but urged the Government to push ahead with the reforms.
He also urged the business and political leaders present “to back not just the legislative changes but the tangible implementation.”
“As business leaders of the country your support is essential. You don’t have to agree with every decision that has been made but we must be strong and unified in the overall goal,” the ambassador said.
A successful IMF programme, he said, will put Jamaica back on solid footing to make those essential public investments to infrastructure, education, health and security.
Underscoring the importance of trade to the economy, Moreno challenged “everyone here tonight and across the island” to work to ensure that Jamaica’s trade doubles over the next decade.
To achieve that goal, he said, Jamaica must lower barriers to trade by streamlining systems to let business flourish.
“Jamaica cannot sit in the middle of the pack,” he said, “it must be an attractive place to do business.”
Moreno said that each time Jamaica upholds its international obligations under the World Trade Organisation, the courts quickly resolve commercial disputes, and it acts to curtail corruption, “it signals its attractiveness to the global market”.
He urged Jamaica to reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers to US partners, noting that while he understood the role that tariffs and customs duties play in the Jamaican government’s finances, their reduction would lift trade barriers.
“I believe that Jamaica can and should be our biggest economic partner in the region,” Moreno said.
He noted that the economic potential in Jamaica was substantial, but despite advantages such as a high literacy rate and dedication of a huge chunk of the national budget to education Jamaica continued to face economic challenges.
He adds that the current reforms could lead to a turnaround.
“For the past 20 years, stagnant economic growth, coupled with excessive borrowing and high debt payments have limited the government’s ability to invest in infrastructure, social services and security,” Moreno said.
“As you know, this has led to the necessity of an IMF intervention. Under this IMF agreement, the Jamaican government has made important strides in reforming the economy to unleash the growth potential,” he said. “Those reforms must continue”.