Welcome Address: Barry Featherman, President & CEO





Miami, Florida - May 24, 2004

- Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of the Caribbean Community
- Ministers of State of the Caribbean Community
- Members of the United States Congress and their Staffs
- Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
- Ambassadors to the United States
- The Assistant Secretary General of CARICOM
- The Director-General of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM),
- The Senior Advisor to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States,
- Other Members of the Delegation of the Caribbean Community;
- Senior Officials of CARICOM Member States and the CRNM;
- CARICOM Distinguished Guests;
- Members of the Media;
- Ladies and Gentlemen;

Today the Inter-American Economic Council hosts a Caribbean Trade Ministers Meeting here in the beautiful city of Miami, Florida. As President of the Council I welcome you most warmly to this meeting and thank you for your attendance.

I also wish to thank you for your presence on behalf of the Chairman of the Council, Ambassador Christopher Thomas, who is unable to join us this morning as he is chairing a donors conference on Haiti today in Geneva.

This Caribbean Trade Ministers Meeting is designed to create a forum in which the Caribbean Trade Ministers can engage in a direct dialogue with Members of the United States Congress and senior officials from countries that are actively engaged in the negotiation of trade agreements.

As many of you will know our Council's cause is a regional cause whose genesis derived from a recognition and conviction that through continuous dialogue we can develop substantive policy proposals to further the cause of regional economic development. The council has focused heavily on developing a working partnership with the Congressional Caribbean Caucus to identify policy proposals and legislative priorities. At the beginning of May we held a Congressional Staff Retreat here in Miami designed to develop a strategic agenda for the Caribbean Caucus. Prior to that meeting we met with the Caribbean Diplomatic Corps in Washington to provide substantive input on the direction of the agenda. The bi-partisan nature of the Caucus is important as Democrats and Republicans work together in a unified way to strengthen the relationship between the United States and the Caribbean.

In addition to our work with Congress and through our cooperative agreements with the OAS, the Caribbean Development Bank and direct working relationships with the hemisphere's governments and the United States Congress, we have also created a space at meetings of government leaders for a dialogue with the private sector. This past year the Council created these opportunities, in Santiago, Chile, Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Antigua, St. Lucia, Miami, Ecuador and in Washington DC. We have engaged Heads of State and government in meaningful exchanges to improve the economic climate in the countries of the Andean region and in the Caribbean. We have also collaborated closely with members of the Congressional Caribbean Caucus in organizing two successful congressional delegations to the Caribbean. We continue to believe that the pursuit of the work of multi-lateral organizations and groupings can best be complemented and partnered through the integration of a private /public sector policy focus and perspective--and this particularly so in the economic advancement of the region.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Council is most satisfied with the receptivity of its work within the region. We continue to work to create beneficial partnerships between the countries of the Caribbean, the United States of America and the wider hemisphere.

Ladies and gentlemen, the goal of the management of the Inter-American Economic Council continues. Your presence here today in response to our effort fortifies our determination.

Finally, I want to thank the Ministers of Trade of the Caribbean, the bipartisan Members of the United States House of Representatives Congressional Caribbean Caucus including co-chairs Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) and Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ) and their staffs, the CARICOM Ambassadors and Diplomatic Corps in Washington, DC, the CARICOM Secretariat, the Regional Negotiating Machinery, the OAS, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Miami Mayor Manuel Diaz, Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas, Stanford Financial Group, Univision, the Cisneros Group of Companies, loridaFTAA, and the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce without whom this program would not have been possible.

It is with honor and pleasure that I now invite the Senior Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Barbados, Dame Billie Miller, to deliver the feature address this morning.

    Copyright 2002-2003 - Inter-American Economic Council - All Rights Reserved.
About Us    Initiatives    Membership    Events and Programs    Officers    Press Releases    Contact Us    About this site