The Most Honourable Andrew Holness ON, MP
US Secretary of State Visit Press Conference
February 7, 2017
It was my great pleasure to welcome United States Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson to Jamaica and to host him and his delegation on this brief but historic working visit to Jamaica. Secretary Tillerson and I have engaged in critical discussions on issues of mutual interests to Jamaica and the United States as well as the region with a focus on promoting a peaceful, prosperous, energy-secure and democratic hemisphere. Among the specific matters discussed were strengthening security cooperation in order to more effectively combat transnational organized crime boosting the US/ Jamaica economic partnership, exploring opportunities to broaden US/ CARICOM engagement, energy security, the economic vulnerability of middle income countries including climatic events, de-risking and correspondent banking issues and of course the situation in Venezuela.
Our talks reflected Jamaica’s long and productive relationship with the United States and signal the importance of the strong and vibrant partnership that exists between our two countries. I highlighted the common values we share based on our geographic proximity. Our strong historical and cultural ties, our robust trade, tourism and investment relations, our large Jamaican diaspora in the USA and our strong record of people to people contacts at all levels.
I expressed gratitude on behalf of the government and people of Jamaica for their high levels of support provided by the United States to Jamaica over the years especially in the areas which have assisted in meeting our national development goals in particular, we’ve greatly valued America’s efforts to disrupt transnational crime through continued support to effectively secure Jamaica’s maritime space. We agreed to deepen our cooperation in this regard acknowledging also, that the sharing and exchanging of intelligence is critical to the safety and security of our two countries and the wider region.
With respect to our economic partnership, Secretary Tillerson and I both agreed that the transformation of Jamaica’s energy sector is critical to the achievement of our development objectives including resilience.
I expressed the hope that the US will continue to support our thrust towards energy independence in the region including greater efficiency in energy use and greater incorporation of renewable energy sources.
I expressed the hope that the United States will strengthen its economic partnerships and participation in the region in the interest of our respect countries and peoples. Additionally, we used the opportunity to discuss diaspora matters and the invaluable contribution of Jamaican residence in the United States including those engaged in service sectors of critical importance to the United States economy.
Secretary Tillerson reiterated the concern of the US government on the political and economic crisis in Venezuela and the impact on the most vulnerable. We both agreed that positive engagement between the government and the opposition in Venezuela is essential and I expressed regret that the attempts of the OAS to promote dialogue have not been met with success.
At the conclusion of our meeting, we agreed that the government of Venezuela must act in the best interest of its people and that it should ensure that the presidential elections are free, fair and credible in the eyes of the Venezuelan people and the international community.
Secretary Tillerson, I thank you for visiting Jamaica today as we work towards a shared vision of peaceful, prosperous, energy secure and a democratic hemisphere. I thank you for the frank and candid dialogue and the spirit of cooperation, which have made our talks constructive and fruitful. I look forward to continuing the vibrant partnership enjoyed between Jamaica and the United States in the years ahead.
I thank you.