Becky Stockhausen, executive director of The American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica (AMCHAM), was recently selected by Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater, on the invitation of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to join 120 other participants from around the globe, at the first Global Business Conference in Washington, DC, in February. The theme was 'Economic Statecraft - US Policy in an Age of Economic Power' in the United States of America.
Secretary Rodham Clinton, who opened the conference, also addressed a special luncheon, and Vice-President Joe Biden closed the conference. Stockhausen told Outlook it was special privilege to attend the conference. "The conference was Secretary Rodham Clinton's idea because, whereas she understands the need for developing countries to export, she would also like to see increased exports from the United States to countries like Jamaica." She said the overall aim was to get governments and the business owners to see the benefits of taking economic diplomacy to the rest of the world.
Stockhausen said having held some initial discussions with members of Jamaica's new Cabinet, AMCHAM was excited by the prospects of working with the Government which so far seemed very accessible. "We both must work together, policies cannot just be developed without us having any ideas as to how they will work," she opined. "I am very excited by the possibility of Jamaica benefiting from the assistance provided through this programme, which was made available to other countries in the region, in the area of small business development and, in particular, from AMCHAM's perspective, the workforce development initiative it represents."
She said further that at the conference, Secretary Clinton reiterated support for President Obama's goal of taking a new approach to diplomacy, some objectives of which are:
To gain insights into the concerns, and recommendations, of the collective body of chambers of commerce globally - on how best to increase trade and investment between the United States and other countries.
The United States is to take action in order to drive economies around the world which require that business and government work together as never before (this sentiment has been voiced in Jamaica as well).
As the largest trading partners of the United States are in the Latin and South American region, to foster a deepening integration into the region through existing and new partnerships prior to the upcoming Summit of the Americas on April 14 and 15.
To develop a comprehensive trade and commercial diplomacy agenda.
Explore utilisation of economic tools and technical assistance to solve foreign policy challenges around the world.
Building the capacity of the State Department through provision of increased staffing required to meet these goals both in Washington and around the globe.
Advise on the establishment of a new undersecretary for economic growth, energy and environment and development of an "energy and climate partnership of the Americas" to work with partners in the region to advance the development and deployment of innovative clean energy technologies to combat global climate change, enhance nationals security and advance sustainable development and green growth. To that end, there have been a number of successes with regard to energy and the environment in Brazil, Chile, Central America - which could potentially assist Jamaica as well.
The Organisation of American States (OAS), with the support of Department of Energy and the United States State Department, is facilitating a Caribbean Sustainable Energy Dialogue of governments, and will provide technical assistance to enable participating countries to implement actions and strategies to increase the sustainability of their energy supplies, while reducing carbon emissions from the energy sector. Through the Low Carbon Communities of the Caribbean Programme, the OAS and the Department of Energy are jointly providing assistance on energy efficiency and conservation.
Coming away from the Global Business Conference, Stockhausen is hopeful that there will be more ease for local businesses entering America; ease with visa restrictions and local businesses will be more encouraged to come forward with new ideas for investments there. "We hope to see more sustainable projects and more partnerships between our countries that will lead to a widening of the net that will be mutually beneficial. Jamaica has the advantage of being in the same time zone, being a relatively short distance away, sharing a common language and having an excellent workforce, these make us a excellent potential place for future investment," she said.
Becky Stockhausen, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica (foreground), in attendance at February's Global Business Conference in Washington DC.