THE EDITOR, Sir:
The Caribbean has been a beneficiary of Europe and North America's benevolence for many years; America alone provided the region with more than US$10 billion in aid from 1980 to 2010.
However, because of myriad economic problems plaguing developed states, the region can no longer depend on the goodwill of other nations. Many may decry Europe's decision to graduate upper- and middle-income countries from development assistance, but this should be interpreted as an opportunity to forge a new relationship with Europe based on trade.
Regional policymakers may state that the rationale for graduation is flawed, since per-capita incomes do not reflect the true nature of a territory that is susceptible to natural disasters and external shocks; some even argue that the region should advocate for its right to receive special treatment. Unfortunately, mendicancy is not an option.
This is the opportune time to embark on exciting ventures with our trading partners, and there are some countries that are seizing the opportunity like India. In a recent interview carried by England's Sky News, with India's Foreign Minister Salmud Kurshid, he said: "We've moved on from the era of aid to the era of trade, so we have to really concentrate now on economic relations."
Forming commercial alliances with foreign powers will do more to improve the competitiveness of the region than any aid programme. For example, the recently concluded memorandum of understanding between South Korea and the United Arab Emirates to strengthen SME cooperation is the type of alliance that Jamaica must form with its more advanced partners.
Another example of an innovative partnership is UK-Colombia trade, which facilitates cooperation between British and Colombian businesses, particularly innovative small and medium-size enterprises focused on science, innovation and infrastructure.
According to columnist Ed Buckley: "Programmes like UK Colombia Trade ensure that Colombia does not have to go it alone, but rather can count on global partners with extensive experience to lend a helping hand."
The Caribbean must create a niche for itself in this competitive global economy. Wearing our failures as a badge of honour in an attempt to secure preferential treatment will not allow the region to achieve anything of substance.