Jamaican State Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Arnaldo Brown, says his government will be exploring all the economic possibilities at this year’s Jamaica Diaspora Conference, slated for the Montego Bay Convention Centre, in St. James, from June 16 to 19.
“There is still another level that we can take the diaspora homeland partnership. The flow of remittances globally is $425 billion, that is three to four times the flow of official development assistance, and that explains why first-world countries, such as the United States of America has taken very keen interest in the diaspora movement,” the State Minister said.
Brown was providing an update on the conference to business interests at the Sunset Resort in Montego Bay, on May 27.
“I want (people) to understand that the diaspora movement is not just in terms of monetary resources, it is expertise, innovation, ideas, drive, and we are talking about people being able to get things done,” Brown said.
He emphasized that Jamaicans living on the island must also be part of the investment prospects that the conference is seeking to harness.
The State Minister explained that the rebranded conference is seeking to recalibrate the country’s approach to the diaspora movement, because although much success has been achieved through the grouping, as other countries have proven with their nationals abroad, Jamaica can realize vast economic fortunes after its local resource is channeled properly.
He said the over $2 billion sent home annually, and the support given by Jamaicans overseas to health facilities and educational institutions, demonstrate that they are keen on the growth of their country.
“In 2012, there were 135 medical missions that came to Jamaica. We have not quantified the resources and the returns that these medical missions represent. There are many Jamaicans who are still supporting their schools through the network of alumni associations overseas – they build schools, they build classrooms, they build libraries and they equip these schools, and these are not returns that we quantify,” he noted.
The State Minister said that several countries, including Israel, Ireland, India, China, Mexico, have been able to leverage their homeland diaspora partnership and bring about significant benefits, both to the homeland, and to the members of the Diaspora.
“I had the privilege last year of attending the inaugural global diaspora conference hosted by Israel, and it was an opportunity for best practices to be shared. Jamaica has all the elements in the diaspora ‘toolkit’ to make us on par, or even excel where these countries have gone,” Brown said.