Your Excellency Ambassador Noel Martinez Ochoa – Dean of the Diplomatic Corps
The Hon. Arnold Foote – Dean of the Consular Corps
Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps
Mr. Bruce Bowen – President and Chief Executive Officer, Scotia Bank Group
Mr. Robert Scott – Secretary, Consular Corps of Jamaica
Delegates from overseas
Ladies and gentlemen
May I express my delight at the opportunity to participate in this international trade expo, organized by the Consular Corps of Jamaica under the able and energetic leadership of the Hon. Arnold Foote.
This international expo was first launched in 2002 and while there was a brief break in its staging, I am happy to see that it has returned with relish. I congratulate all of those who worked so tirelessly to make this expo a reality. I am well aware of the kind of planning an event such as this involves. May I also congratulate all the exhibitors, both on your participation and on the quality of the exhibits.
The concept of this international expo is one which recommends itself. Indeed, this is borne out by the fact that the World Federation of Consuls in 2005 adopted the international expo as part of its own programme and now this expo is being staged in a number of countries worldwide. Success naturally bears repetition.
The importance of trade goes ways beyond the economic benefits derived from the trading nations. Trade is not just about prosperity. It is about relationships. It is about peace, stability, global order and development. It has long been a truism in international relations that trade is a critical component of any strategy for building a peaceful global order.
Trade has for long been seen by geopolitical specialists as an antidote to war, and it has been the accepted wisdom that nations with strong trading links don’t generally go to war with one another. It is when trade has broken down, when it is weak, when it is disrupted; it is when States have no stake in preserving peace that they go to war with each other. Trade was promoted in previous centuries not just as a means of nations demonstrating the logic of comparative advantage, but as a means of dis-incentivising war.
The role of trade in international development is a fascinating study but we need not be detained by the historical survey today. It is sufficient to make the point that there is much value in international collaboration, cooperation and partnership. Today it remains an important index of the state of relationship between nations. When relationships between States begin to break down and when tensions mount, the cracks begin to appear in trade. Trade wars usually begin before military conflict. Frosty relationships usually manifest in restrictive trade. So our international expo is indicative of the healthy relationships which exist among us as States. It is indicative of our recognition that trade is not just a vital component of economic development, but of harmonious diplomatic relations.
We are just emerging form a global crisis which demanded a high degree of international coordination. At the onset of the global crisis in 2008 many worried that nations would resort to protectionist measures to safeguard their own fragile economies. Many worried that the world would once again be plunged into another era of restrictive trade as well as tariffs and non-tariff barriers. There were fears that the tremendous progress recorded in terms of liberalization of trade would be reversed in light of the global crisis. But, happily, the latest UNCTAD Trade and Development Report 2011 indicates that restrictive measures on imports recorded by the WTO remained modest—just 0.6% of total G-20 imports—and so far no significant increase in trade barriers has been recorded. In fact, international trade rebounded in 2010 after having registered its greatest downturn since World War Two after this global crisis.
It is important to bear in mind, ladies and gentlemen, that this rebounding of international trade has been facilitated by the high degree of coordination of action which took place in the face of the global economic crisis. States came together and hammered out common positions that would work in the inertest of the international community. The level of international solidarity displayed was heartwarming as it was indispensable.
You as Trade Consuls are committed to cooperation. That is the essence of what you do. Your States are the beneficiaries of your relentless efforts to promote trade and economic relations. We in Jamaica are deeply committed to international trade and liberalization. In fact, that our record in supporting open trade and in reducing trade barriers has been one of the most impressive in the developing world.
Jamaicaby its own initiative and through its own commitment to trade openness and the elimination of trade distortions has systematically liberalized our economy. Even though as a nation we may not have reaped the intended benefits of openness we have not flagged in our commitment to it as a principle. Our degree of trade openness to GDP as a small island economy is very high—90%. We are a trade-dependent nation; that is why an expo like this is very important to us. Our size dictates our commitment to trade.
I know that in this audience are many friends of Jamaica; people who are partners in our development; people who believe in us and who stand in solidarity with us, as we eagerly set about to raise the living standards of our people. Your presence here today demonstrates your support for us. The fact that you see us as worthy business partners is an expression of confidence in our future. Jamaica, I want to assure you, will honour that confidence reposed in us. We are committed to first-class production of goods and services. We are committed to benchmarking our goods and services to the highest international standards.
We are committed to building an economy which is characterized by macroeconomic stability, competitiveness, fiscal responsibility, trade dynamism and good governance principles. Your support for our efforts is crucial. Our partnership is critical.
As Governor General, I am pleased to be associated with this International Trade Expo and even more delighted to offer the Governor General’s Trophy to the best exhibitor. I congratulate and commend all participants and hope you will be back next year for a bigger and even better expo. Special congratulations, of course, to our best booth winner. Thanks for your example. You have inspired the others. I caution that you can’t rest easily on your laurels for others will be coming to snatch that prize from you next year.
I congratulate the Hon. Arnold Foote again for the fine leg work he had to display to pull this all together. The only reward for work, as they say, is even more work, so I know, Arnold, you have a lot of work to do for next year’s expo and I know you are eagerly looking forward to your World Confederation in Monaco next year, too.
It is my pleasure to be with you, ladies and gentlemen, on this final day of your successful expo. Let us keep the cooperation going as we mutually support one another for growth and prosperity. I thank you.