Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Keep calm ... Trump win not the end of the world for Jamaica - US official

Published:Thursday | November 10, 2016 | 11:00 AMAndre Poyser
Christian Redmer
Donald Trump
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Counsellor of Political and Economic Affairs at the United States Embassy in Jamaica Christian Redmer has moved to allay fears about the ascendancy of Donald Trump to the Office of President of the United States.

"This is the 45th administration the United States has had, and we have had all types. No one knows for sure what the future will bring, and I say that with complete candour, however, I would remind you that we do have a strong and enduring relationship between the two countries," he said while speaking at a post-US election Gleaner Editors' Forum.

While noting that the United States was one of the first countries to recognise Jamaica as an independent nation, Redmer argued that the several areas of cooperation between the two countries are expected to be maintained even with the change of administration in the United States.

"We share many of the same values, including a strong historic commitment to democracy and promotion of democracy in our hemisphere, which binds us together," he added.

Donald Trump pulled off one of the most stunning victories in US election history on Tuesday, and the Associated Press (AP) reported yesterday that world leaders were struggling to come to grips with the fact that he will be the next president of the United States. AP said, too, that there was anxiety in Europe among NATO allies.

"When Trump takes office in January, world leaders will confront a man whose stated views represent a sharp break with US foreign policy orthodoxy. He has cozied up to Russian President Vladimir Putin, warned stunned NATO allies they will have to pay for their own protection, floated a ban on Muslims entering the US, and vowed to make the Mexican government finance a multibillion-dollar border wall," the AP article said.

But while declining to predict any possible policy changes, particularly as it relates to security and immigration assistance that the US provides to Jamaica, the embassy official at The Gleaner forum expressed confidence that the long-standing relationship between Jamaica and the US would continue to be a motivating factor in future relations.

"We have a very strong shared interest in prosperity, and, I think, more than anything else that will align our policies as they are developed and that will help to ensure the continuity of our relationship no matter what the specific policies may bring," he said.

Redmer also surmised that it remains to be seen whether specific policies will change, pointing out that it will be very difficult for even President Elect Trump to do so at this very early stage of his transition to the highest political office in the world's most powerful democracy.

"While specific policies may or may not change, and that is something no one can really comment on, I am not even sure that Mr Trump can speak to that at this point in time," he said.

According to Redmer, there is every reason to expect strong and robust collaboration between Jamaica and the United States as "there are so many things that bind our two countries together that are deep and systemic".

"Shared prosperity is something that is of high priority for the United States. We have committed publicly here at the mission to supporting, US investment in Jamaica and we are over a billion dollars now, and so that is certainly something that is deep and entrenched ... the US and Jamaica, have a deep and enduring relationship, and that has remained the case during different administrations," he said.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has extended to Trump his congratulations on behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica.

He communicated the great value placed by Jamaica on the long-standing friendship and cooperation, "which has shaped our bilateral relationship with the United States for more than 50 years". Holness emphasised his intention to build on existing initiatives, to explore new opportunities, as well as his desire to strengthen US-Caribbean and Jamaican relations.

Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller also congratulated Trump. She said the United States was a strong democracy and his victory was was an expression of the confidence of Americans in his ability to push for the changes in Washington that many have advocated for over the years.

andre.poyser@gleanerjm.com