The New York CARIB News - Multi-National Business Conference a Success
The description sketched a picture perfect outline of Jamaica.
It was “against the backdrop of vistas of tropical beaches, mountain views, hotels, fine golf courses, good infrastructure and serious business persons seeking investment opportunities” that the 17th annual Caribbean Multi-National Business Conference was being held in Montego Bay, said Portia Simpson-Miller, Jamaica’s Prime Minister.
And when she went a step further and called the picturesque setting “a fitting place for deep reflection on important issues of boosting international trade and goods and services between the Caribbean and North America, for establishing valuable business contacts and reviewing friendships,” the large number of corporate executives, government officials, writers, elected lawmakers from New York, award-winning writers, one of the world’s best known singers and actors on the stage and screen, Harry Belafonte, responded with vigorous applause that sent a strong message that her presence and words of welcome at the Ritz Carlton were deeply appreciate.
“I was moved by the fact that she took time out to meet us and talk to us about the issues of investment and trade and about where she wants to take the country,” said George Hulse, a vice president of New York’s HealthFirst. “Her presence was an indication of the importance she attached the conference.”
Add to the list of participants such prominent figures as P.J. Patterson, who led Jamaica’s government longer than any other Prime Minister in the half century of Jamaica’s independence, Anthony Hilton, the island-nation’s Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce; Nick Perry, Deputy Majority Leader of the New York State Assembly; Ed Goldberg, Macy’s senior vice president of External affairs Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, a Minister of State in the country’s cabinet; Terry
McMillan, the award winning author of the novel, “Waiting to Exhale” and several other popular books;” Prof. Charles Ogletree, Harvard University law professor who taught President Barack Obama and his wife when they were studying law at the Ivy League school in Boston; Sheryl Lee Ralph, an original member of the Broadway hit musical, “Dream Girls;” and Michael V. Roberts, a product of St. Louis public schools whose business empire of hotels, television stations and real estate development and it would become clear why the four day meeting is considered some vital to investment and trade promotion and economic and social development in and out of the Caribbean.
“The sessions can certainly help to spur close business partnerships between Jamaica, the Caribbean, South Africa and the rest of the African continent,” said Dr. Rob Davies, South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry. “I benefitted significantly from them.”
South Africa’s involvement and the presence of a key Minister were seen by Patterson, who at different times before he became Jamaica’s Prime Minister served in different cabinet positions, as an important step forward. He said that the conference had quite rightly expanded its reach to Africa, asserting the “time has come for the Caribbean and the African states to discuss policies designed to expand international trade and investment.
“The Caribbean Multi-National Business Conference can only be described as a major success,” said Patterson who is to be presented soon with one of South Africa’s highest national honors for his efforts to forge closer ties between persons of African descent on the continent and in the Caribbean. “The people of Africa now include persons who are not people of color. People in business make decisions that transcend color.”
In a wide ranging presentation, Hilton, Minister of Investment outlined the details of Jamaica’s new comprehensive development initiative that aims to transform Jamaica into a “logistics hub” designed to take advantage of the expansion of the Panama Canal and to boost maritime trade.
“We must expand our world view from just the United States to a broader arena,” he recommended.