PRESIDENT OF THE FIFTY-EIGHTH SESSION OF THE UNITED
NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
H.E. MR JULIAN R. HUNTE
CARIBBEAN-AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (CACCI)
CEREMONY FOR THE AWARDING OF
THE CACCI DISTINGUISHED MEDAL OF SERVICE
YORK, NEW YORK
20 February 2004
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Master of Ceremonies, Mr. President and CEO of the Caribbean
American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Chairman
and other members of the Board, Mr. Corporate Chair, Excellencies,
Government Officials, distinguished ladies and gentlemen:
is a particular pleasure for me that CACCI has selected
me for its Distinguished Medal of Service. I accept this
Medal with great pride, as representative of my country,
St Lucia and a CARICOM national who has the singular honour
of serving as President of the United Nations General
Assembly. Mr. Hastick, may I extend my sincere appreciation
to you, the Board of Directors and the members of CACCI
for this honour.
more than a century, a special relationship has developed
between the Caribbean and the United States of America,
impelled by the thousands of Caribbean people who have
migrated to this country. The successes of this Caribbean
Diaspora are manifested in virtually every aspect of life
in this country - social, economic, cultural and political
- and are a source of great pride for all in the region.
Might I emphasize, therefore, that the relationship between
the Caribbean and the United States is a mutually beneficial
our diaspora in this country remains a vital link between
our region and the United States, and a source of support
for our young developing countries. Often when we speak
of the support our countries receive from the diaspora,
the tendency is to point to the obvious - "remittances"
sent by those abroad to the Caribbean, which not only
support families, but is also an important source of foreign
and our diaspora communities know that commitment to the
Caribbean region requires much more. It requires us all
to dedicate our minds, energy and resources in innovative
and creative ways to further the socio-economic development
of the countries of the region, in a rapidly changing
and challenging global environment.
The time, my friends, is right for CACCI to move to another
level. Recent years have been fraught with disappointments
for the countries of the Caribbean, and the years ahead
loom large with uncertainty. Caribbean countries have
had to confront challenge after challenge, with tools
clearly inadequate to the task.
than anything Caribbean Governments would have done, or
failed to do, global economic developments are a significant
cause of the region's predicament. Let us not forget that
global circumstances and forces beyond their power and
control, as well as events and developments in which they
have no fundamental stake, can rock the foundations of
small island developing states.
In recent years, globalization and trade liberalization,
spurred by rapidly advancing technology, moved to center
stage with promises of progress and development for all.
Trade was to be freed up; markets were to be opened; new
mechanisms such as the World Trade Organization were to
supersede the old regional or common-interest groups through
which we had previously worked. New terms of trade were
to replace existing systems such as regional preferences
for agricultural products, as they had existed under the
Lomé and other agreements. Many were the promises
has shown that in a world that has become a global village,
power, influence and prosperity is disturbingly unequal.
Open markets have benefited the economically strong, as
has many of the rules of the WTO; the Free Trade Area
of the Americas is beset with conflicting interests, again
of the major players. In the meantime, we see investments
move out of the Caribbean region to areas of lower costs,
as the prices of the region's commodities fall and its
efforts to diversity into financial and other services
the costs of keeping up in an increasingly technological
and knowledge driven global economy, Caribbean countries
must add many unanticipated costs. Continuing efforts
to counter the illicit drug trade and trade in small arms
and light weapons and stepping up security measures to
combat international terrorism, for example, add significant
new costs to national budgets. At the same time, levels
of official development assistance continue to sink to
manner in which Governments continue to forge ahead in
the face of significant odds is very much to the credit
of the Caribbean peoples, and very typical of the region.
Modernizing government is a priority - making it easier
and less costly to do business; enhancing the efficiency
of the bureaucracy and streamlining procedures; training
and equipping youth to function in a knowledge-based economy;
seeking more and better market information, to enhance
markets access; and moving away from reliance on one major
export to look for new niche markets, for example in tourism
and financial services.
are other things Caribbean countries must do. They must
produce more, of greater variety. They must consume more
of what is produced internally and regionally. Most urgently,
they must, in innovative ways, develop new export products
that use the goods and services the region has, and stimulate
demand for these goods and services.
am pleased to say that Caribbean countries have realized
some successes. Now, we need cooperation to translate
important victories into further progress. This, as they
say, is where CACCI comes in. It has an important role
to play in contributing to strategies to reach national
as well as international goals, such as the United Nations
Millennium Development Goals.
me here acknowledge the many ways in which the C.A.C.C.I.
has worked to support our region and its business sector.
I want you to know how much your efforts are recognized
and appreciated, specifically because I want to ask you
to do even more.
have with us here tonight a number of Government officials
and policy makers. CACCI can assist by ensuring that they
have a clearer understanding of Caribbean issues and needs,
so that they may take these into account in their relations
with the Caribbean.
building is critical to the further growth and development
of the Caribbean. CACCI could intensify its efforts to
forge strategic alliances between business persons and
entities in the Caribbean and in the United States. An
essential part of this effort would be to provide information
to assist Caribbean businesses and persons to understand
and access markets in the United States.
are all aware that it is not Governments that trade, but
companies. CACCI should therefore seek to have its position
reflected in the strategies and policies adopted in international
trade negotiations. Agreement on business friendly measures
that take into account the circumstances of the countries
of the Caribbean would facilitate both CACCI's efforts
and long-term investment in the region.
President of the United Nations General Assembly, I wish
to say the organization has made significant efforts to
put in place a comprehensive development agenda. In this
context, commitments have been made and priorities for
development have been agreed. CACCI can play an important
role in influencing the policies, levels and terms of
the contributions in respect of Caribbean countries.
CACCI can also assist by encouraging and promoting the
cooperation and collaboration necessary to assist Caribbean
countries in addressing critical social issues such as
illicit drug trafficking, HIV/AIDS and crime. These matters
also profoundly affect development in the Caribbean.
Our Caribbean peoples are known for their industry and
ingenuity. We have proven that we can and will compete
where there is a level playing field. We need action and
practical measures that will ensure that we can achieve
our long-term goals and objectives. This occasion, I believe,
should launch a new era of creative co-operation, in which
CACCI will continue to provide leadership in bringing
new and exciting opportunities to the diaspora and to