July 18, 2008
Sir Louis committed to advancement of nation

This country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Trade Sir Louis Straker is adamant that despite the external challenges facing vulnerable developing states like St. Vincent and the Grenadines, their impact can be cushioned by the development of appropriate policies.{{more}}

Addressing the opening of the two-week foreign heads of mission and consulates consultation on Monday, Sir Louis noted that while St. Vincent and the Grenadines continues to shape its foreign policy focus, it is still struggling to get organised institutionally and equipped with the material, financial and intellectual resources necessary to drive a dynamic international trade and foreign policy, which he says is crucial in a modern competitive post-colonial economy.

“We cannot exist as isolated entities with departments fighting against each other. We are a team and we must all individually and collectively be committed to one common goal the advancement of this nation,” he cautioned the most senior civil servants under his watch.

“I know you (diplomats) face many challenges representing our country in the capitals and institutions to which you have been accredited: concerns about the quality and the quantity of available human resources; conflict over roles and responsibilities… frustration with the bureaucracy and the seemingly slow pace in which things are done.” These problems, Sir Louis, however, acknowledged are not unique to this country, but are things that can be improved on.

Recognising the financial and human resource constraints facing this country’s diplomatic corps, the foreign affairs minister cautioned that whatever little resources are available must be applied responsibly across the board.

“We must also work harder on our communication… we must be accountable and pursue programmes that are realistic, given our circumstances,” Sir Louis said.

Pointing to adverse effects of trade liberalisation and the external factors of climate change, food security and the demand for fossil fuel from emerging economies, Sir Louis noted that the international political environment has been undergoing dramatic changes to which this country’s vulnerable economy has had a negative impact.

According to Sir Louis, this country’s foreign policy must focus its attention on the commitment to regionalism and the national obligations necessary for the realisation of the Caribbean Single Market and the Eastern Caribbean Economic Unit, the implementation of the EPA, while enhancing bilateral relations and fostering new relationships with like-minded states to enhance this country’s interest.

In similar manner, he said, this country’s foreign and trade policy must reflect an interest of working with regional and international partners on initiatives which will create opportunities for cooperation which benefit all sectors of society.

Sir Louis boasted of the Cuba-SVG relations as one such foreign policy initiative which demonstrated cooperation between states.

Referring to the two-week long heads of mission consultation, the foreign affairs head advocated that such gatherings should be used to review this country’s challenges and opportunities, while sharpening its focus and strategic path to advancing its political and economic goals within the international community.