CARICOM must strengthen ties with non-English-speaking countries – Holness

Sunday, November 19, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Prime Minister Andrew Holness, is calling for the strengthening of relations between CARICOM member states and non-English-speaking countries across the Caribbean and Latin America.

He was speaking at the closing panel discussion on 'Challenges and Opportunities in the Caribbean' at the sixth International Monetary Fund (IMF) High Level Caribbean Forum at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Thursday, November 16.

The prime minister was supported in his call by Grenada's Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell, and The Bahamas' Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Peter Turnquist.

Holness, who indicated that he is a “big proponent” of full Caribbean integration, argued that significant benefits can be derived from stronger relations between CARICOM countries and countries such as the Dominion Republic, Haiti and Cuba.

He said Jamaica is actively pursuing a policy of outreach and engagement with the Spanish-speaking countries within the region. “I have paid an official visit to the Dominican Republic (with which) we are pursuing a joint tourism agreement… and we have done the same with Cuba,” he pointed out.

“There is a huge market in Latin America, which Jamaica has to tap into… and I think the rest of the Caribbean has to do the same. For us, I think there is greater advantage with us reaching out,” he added.

While acknowledging that “language is a barrier”, Holness maintained that “it is in our interest that we have the policies to support our people speaking a second language, in particular Spanish and French”.

Mitchell, for his part, said much is already taking place towards integrating non-English-speaking countries.

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