By Alecia Smith-Edwards
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- Increased opportunities for investment and trade are among the areas of focus for this year’s staging of the fifth Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference.
The conference, which is to be held from June 16 to 19 in Montego Bay, seeks to bring together members of the Jamaican Diaspora for discussions, aimed at forming alliances which will stimulate investment in various sectors.
Held under the theme: ‘A Nation on a Mission: Jamaica-Diaspora Partnership for National Development’, the event will also focus on the development of key sectors, such as healthcare and education.
Speaking at a ceremony on Wednesday to launch the conference, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator A.J. Nicholson welcomed the conference, which he said is indicative of the government’s drive to strengthen the linkages between Jamaica and its Diaspora.
“Today’s event epitomises the serious commitment which both the government and the private sector attach to the effective engagement of the Jamaican Diaspora in national development,” he said.
Nicholson said that the conference is an important space to facilitate dialogue and consultations between entities engaged in complementary activities.
“The discussion surrounding Jamaica’s growth and investment strategies and its alignment to Vision 2030’s long term plan creates an ideal opportunity where policymakers and practitioners at the highest level are engaged with members of the Diaspora in explaining the various policies, while getting important and direct feedback,” he said.
The minister noted that he is particularly pleased with the level of interest and the significant input by the private sector in this process.
“Without this input, we would have found it extremely difficult to host the Diaspora conference over the years,” he said.
According to chair of the conference marketing sub-committee, Mark Thomas, this year the conference has been “re-calibrated, re-packaged and re-branded,” which includes a change in the event logo and intensified marketing.
“It will seek to engage wider audiences in the major Diaspora markets around the world, with a view to building new connections and relationships, not just on the basis of time-honoured ‘nostalgic trade’ and philanthropy, but connections and relationships, which are premised on the secure platforms of trade and investment and business on a global scale,” he said.
The event will feature presentations by a range of experts, trade and investment interests, local officials and Diaspora interests; a market place, tours, opportunities for dialogue, community based activities and unique special events to foster networking.
It is anticipated that approximately 350 to 500 persons will attend the conference, which will include members from the Jamaican Diaspora in the Caribbean and other locations, in addition to delegates from the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.
There will be similar launches throughout the main Diaspora regions of the UK, Canada and the United States.
Every two years, the conference brings together Jamaicans overseas and Jamaicans at home to strengthen and sustain existing and emerging linkages and networks to advance the socio-economic development of Jamaica.