Pegasus Hotel, Friday 25th February 2011


Honourable Kenneth Baugh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade,
Your Excellencies, Dean and members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Colleague members of the Consular Corps of Jamaica,
Distinguished members of the press,
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen.

It is my distinct pleasure to welcome all of you to today’s meeting of the Consular Corps of Jamaica at the start of the mandate of the newly elected Executive.

We are meeting at a time when significant changes are occurring across the globe, but in particular in the Middle East and North Africa. Though distant from these events, none of us is immune to their potential impact. It is in times like these, when we cannot but focus on national and international challenges, that we must also take stock of how we serve in our own ways to bring the change for the better which we all desire.

As most of you would be aware, I have just returned from a tour of several countries in my role as President of the World Federation of Consuls. In each country where we met, the concern was the same; how do we best utilize our experience, our resources and networks, to foster development and contribute to peace and stability?

Mr. Minister, I believe that there is much more that the Honorary Consuls can do. Jamaica has an impressive network of Honorary Consuls across the globe, but I must confess that in my travels, I have become painfully aware that many of them are not familiar with the realities of Jamaica. I have asked myself whether there are ways to get them more energized and more plugged into the development goals and objectives of our island.

One way which comes to mind, and which I am now proposing for discussion with the Directors of the Consular Corps of Jamaica, is to offer honorary membership in our Corps, to the network of Honorary Consuls of Jamaica overseas. In this way, we could link them with our programmes and seek their participation in boosting tourism, trade, investment and cultural exchanges, especially where Jamaica has no resident diplomatic mission.

We recognize that consular operations can no longer be confined to the issuance of travel documents and attention to the welfare of the nationals of the countries that we represent, as globalization has altered the framework of bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

Several countries worldwide are closing their Embassies for budgetary reasons, and are appointing Honorary Consuls to serve in countries in which they have business interests.

The role of the Honorary Consul must be expanded to encompass the full range of economic, political and diplomatic relations. This expanded role is particularly important for developing countries and small states which cannot afford global deployment of their foreign service.

A critically important component of the foundation of peace, democracy and development is economic growth. In today’s world economy, which is being transformed by a comprehensive process of advanced globalization, international trade is the engine of economic growth, and has assumed an increasingly prominent role in State to State relations.

The development of trade is one of the main functions of the Consul, and is an integral part of the objectives of this administration of the Consular Corps of Jamaica.

The members of the Consular Corps of Jamaica are ideally suited to participate positively in trade promotion activity as its membership includes a very high proportion of Consuls with considerable business expertise. They can make an excellent contribution in developing trade between Jamaica and the countries that they have the honour to serve.

I am therefore very pleased to announce, that the Consular Corps of Jamaica’s International Trade Expo will once again be held at the Pegasus Hotel on 9th and 10th October 2011. We shall be having a press conference on Expo 2011 next month, but it is very encouraging to note, that several countries have already booked and others have shown serious interest in participating.

The objectives of the International Trade Expo are;

  1. To develop trade between the Sending and Receiving States
  2. To be organized on an annual basis which will also assist in re-positioning Kingston as another tourist destination.
  3. To project the countries that are members of the Diplomatic Corps
  4. To project the countries that are members of the Consular Corps of Jamaica
  5. To project the products manufactured for export by these countries
  6. To project companies in these countries that would like to find joint venture partners in Jamaica in order to reach the USA, Caribbean and Latin American markets
  7. To give resident and non-resident representatives of countries with diplomatic relations with Jamaica, the information necessary about Jamaica in order to encourage trade and increase trade with these countries
  8. To create a better understanding of Jamaica with these countries
  9. This Expo will bring together Jamaican businessmen and women and their counterparts from abroad. It is a match making exercise which will do well for all parties concerned.

This International Trade Expo, created in Jamaica, has been adopted successfully by several countries worldwide.

This Expo is unique, as it is the only Expo in the world where the Sending State trades directly with the Receiving State and at very low cost to the Embassies and Consulates.

I would like to pay special tribute to the members of the Diplomatic Corps who have constantly given us advice and guidance and have fully supported our successful International Trade Expos in the past. The Diplomatic Corps’ participation in our International Trade Expo is vital to its success.

I am very pleased to see so many Ambassadors here this evening and I would like to thank you all for your support.

We have a lot of other programmes lined up, including our International Cultural Gala 2011, which will be announced during our monthly meeting in April.

Hon. Minister, thank you very much for your continued support. Your assistance to us nationally and internationally is much appreciated.

Hon. Minister, on behalf of the Consular Corps of Jamaica, I want to congratulate you on your recent presentation of Jamaica’s Trade Policy to the World Trade Organization. From all reports we have seen, including on the website of the WTO, it is very evident that you did Jamaica proud Minister. You frankly outlined the challenges which Jamaica faces as a small, highly indebted, middle income country, and presented the vision for its growth and development.

We therefore not only welcome you here today, but look forward to your address.

Thank you very much.