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Monday, April 21, 2014
Last Updated Wednesday, December 31, 1969

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KINGSTON, Jamaica - Following the Kingston launch of the 5th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference at the Office of the Prime Minister last week Wednesday and the recent Stakeholders Meeting at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay, which was attended by that city’s Mayor, Glendon Harris, it is indeed expected that this year’s Conference will be “a landmark one, and a turning point for Jamaica,” as stated by the State Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Honourable Arnaldo Brown MP.

In addition to the unveiling of a Diaspora and Development Policy framework and an increased focus on trade and investment, this year’s rebranded Conference will also address issues germane to the Diaspora in their host countries such as immigration; the US Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act (FATCA) and the Air Passenger Duty (APD), among others.

Minister Brown, last Friday, while addressing a meeting of stakeholders to include the Mayor, the Honourable Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, State Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce and MP for West Central St. James, sponsors and potential sponsors from both Montego Bay and Kingston, underscored the success of Jamaicans in the Diaspora and their willingness to partner with Jamaica in its journey towards development.

Citing the US$2 billion 2011 remittances to Jamaica from the Diaspora, representing over 13% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and which exceeds Overseas development Assistance (ODA)) by 4 to1, and the over 132 medical missions by Diaspora members in 2012 alone, the State Minister, encouraged “local business sectors to use the Conference to network and gain business opportunities.”

In endorsing the 5th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, Mayor Harris expressed his appreciation to the Preparatory Committee for choosing Montego Bay and specifically the Montego Bay Convention Centre, as its Conference site. “You have expressed confidence in Montego Bay, and I hope that by the end of the Conference, you would have achieved the theme; Nation on a Mission: Jamaica-Diaspora Partnership for Development.

Also pledging support for the Conference was Ms. Cathy Cooke, Director, Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who spoke of the Chamber’s desire “to work with the Diaspora.”

In his Marketing overview and projections for the 5th Biennial Conference, Mark Thomas, Chair of the Conference Marketing Sub-Committee, also underscored the ambitious plans and expectations of this year’s staging of the Conference. “In addition to the approximately 300 usual Diaspora attendees, we aim to attract 50 Diaspora Business investors, as we use the Conference to trigger business relationships,” said Mr. Thomas.

Anchoring the Diaspora Conference in Jamaica’s development agenda, the Honourable Arnold J. Nicholson QC, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, had during the Kingston launch on Wednesday last, highlighted the significance of the Diaspora’s contribution to the achievement of Jamaica’s Vision 2030. “The discussion surrounding Jamaica’s growth and investment strategies and its alignment to Vision 2030’s long term plan creates an ideal opportunity where policy makers and practitioners at the highest level are engaged with members of the Diaspora in explaining the various policies while getting important and direct feedback.”

With an approximate population of over 3 million, the Jamaican Diaspora is an important component of the Jamaican global landscape, and the Jamaica Diaspora Conference has become an important biennial event on the calendar of Jamaica and its Diaspora.

It is expected that this year’s rebranded conference, with an increased focus on trade and investment, will attract Jamaican Diaspora representatives from the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (US), Canada and the Caribbean.

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