Portia Simpson Miller

Remarks After Meeting with President Barack Obama - April 9, 2015

Portia Simpson Miller
April 09, 2015— Kingston, Jamaica
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Thank you for being with us today to witness this memorable chapter in Jamaica-U.S. relations.

The historic meeting held today with the Honorable Barack Obama, president of the United States of America, sends a positive signal of the strong bilateral relationship that exists between Jamaica and the United States of America.

These relations are anchored in our strong democratic traditions and the historical and cultural bonds that unite our peoples. The importance to Jamaica of our relations with the United States of America must be clearly understood. The USA is Jamaica's leading trading partner, main tourism market, and a chief source of foreign direct investment.

The USA is home to the largest Jamaican diaspora. The main aim of our dialogue, therefore, was to further strengthen a partnership that existed long before the formal establishment of diplomatic relations in 1962.

During our bilateral meeting, I renewed the high levels of regard which Jamaica has for the United States of America. I also expressed to President Obama and the government of the United States, on behalf of the government and people of Jamaica, our gratitude for the high levels of support provided by the United States to Jamaica over the years.

Central to our discussions were the elements of Jamaica's performance under the current extended fund facility with the IMF and the positive outlook for the future. As Jamaica builds on the gains made so far under the program with the fund, we recognize that we renew our commitment to the economic reform program going forward.

We also discussed strengthening our cooperation in the areas of security and human resource development. We explored additional ways of improving our trade and economic relations, including through capacity building for our private sector as well as in the areas of energy security and renewable energy.

One of the outcomes of the president's visit is the signing by our respective ministers of energy of a statement of intent between Jamaica and the United States of America to pursue the development and deployment of energy-related technologies. And I want to thank you, Mr. President, so much and your government. Through this statement of intent we aim to encourage increased bilateral trade, boost the development of emerging technologies and industries, and pave the way for future innovation in energy-related fields.

Other areas of our deliberations centered on regional and hemispheric developments, including relations with our closest neighbor, Cuba, and our expectations for the Summit of the Americas. And here again, I want to thank the president of the United States for action taken in terms of Cuba, and to say to the president -- we're very happy to say to you, Mr. President, you are on the right side of history.

The president and I and our teams also used the opportunity to have brief exchanges on multilateral development issues. And he had some serious concern, as well as Jamaica, in terms of climate change and financing for development and post-’15 [2015] development agenda.

I want to once again thank you, Mr. President, for visiting with us. And I just want to say to you, you might not know, but you're very loved in this country, Jamaica. And I just want to indicate to you that last night, while I was getting back home, the streets -- people had lined the streets on the route they thought that you would be driving last night. So I had to give all the waves for you and threw the kisses to all the people that were out at that time, waiting to get a glimpse of your vehicle. So I just want to say you're well-loved in Jamaica.

Well, first of all, I can say to you publicly, I love you, and ask for you to pass on my best wishes to your beautiful wife. And I'm sorry she was not able to make this visit with you -- but to thank you so much. And you might not understand how important this is for us as a culture, and certainly will be important for our CARICOM region.

And I thank you very much.

The Obama White House. “President Obama Meets with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. YouTube video, 19:18. April 9, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGT2yYzeEg4