The New Democratic Party (NDP) recognizes the right of St. Vincent and the Grenadines as a sovereign nation to maintain diplomatic relations with other sovereign nations of its choosing. However, the Unity Labour Party (ULP) government has fashioned its foreign policy approach to reflect a personal, overly strident support of non-democratic regimes like Russia, Cuba, Venezuela and Iran, while ignoring our more traditional allies like the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, which are significant centres of the Vincentian Diaspora.
This personalised foreign policy approach by the ULP government is reflected daily by the utterances of spokespersons for the government, as if diplomatic relations with some of these countries started when the ULP government came to power. For instance, St. Vincent and the Grenadines established diplomatic relations with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in 1981, and with the Republic of Cuba in 1992, when the NDP was in office.
The government’s foreign policy approach is questioned by most Vincentians. As Major Leacock said, “Prime Minister Gonsalves wants St. Vincent and the Grenadines to be seen in the eyes of the world as the country that defies our traditional relationship with North America and Europe.” To this end, the Prime Minister needs to explain to Vincentians why he did not attend the Summit of the Americas. The Summit of the Americas is an international summit meeting of the leaders of the countries in the Organization of American States.
The ULP government has failed our country on our international reputation. They have repeatedly promised to engage other countries but complacently delivered little for Vincentians. We do not receive the investment, aid or trade which St. Vincent and the Grenadines needs for economic growth and jobs.
NDP’s Foreign Policy will create jobs and economic growth
The NDP recognizes that we need international goodwill to bring investment into St. Vincent and the Grenadines to help us achieve our plan for jobs and economic growth. All our efforts will be targeted to maximize our inward investment and help us deliver jobs and better standards of living for all our people.
The NDP reaffirms its commitment to invest in our international role, commensurate with our condition as a small island developing state in a globalized environment. In this regard, we will place primary emphasis on diplomatic efforts to create and exploit new opportunities in trade and business relations through bilateral and multilateral initiatives, while maintaining and strengthening, wherever possible, traditionally beneficial principles. This new diplomacy aims at empowering our people, thereby enabling them to build the society they desire; safe, prosperous and proud of our heritage and role in the world.
For countries like St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with small open economies subject to the vagaries of that condition, creative engagement in International Affairs is required, not only as a consequence of political independence, but as an indispensable area of involvement for the enhancement of national development and the provision of greater opportunities for country and nationals alike. Our foreign policy will be tailored to maximize these opportunities.
The NDP is confident that it has devised a methodology which will enable our country to benefit from increased interaction in the international community. The NDP is proud of our people and nation, and we are convinced that we can contribute significantly, within our means, on the international stage, while conversely increasing the benefits to be derived from that engagement.
The central facet of our external relations will be to deepen the regional integration process with particular reference to the OECS, then reaching outwards through the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) integration initiatives. This will provide the springboard from which we could insert ourselves into other hemispheric and global integration, especially with respect to economic and trade relations. We will pursue a broad-based political cooperation and linkages policy, geared towards increasing the economic and social benefits to be derived thereof.
Further, there are a number of Vincentians abroad who are qualified and lecture in Information Technology, Medicine, Engineering and other areas. Their expertise is welcomed by the NDP as we seek to create a knowledge based economy. We look forward to the Diaspora playing a major role in training, teaching and investing in Information Technology and its development as a sector. We welcome the investment of the Diaspora in local business which will improve the two way trade between St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Diaspora.
We also will see the Diaspora having an impact on health care. And, establish close ties with the Garifuna community around the world and deepen relations with the descendants of the Garifuna people who were banished from St. Vincent to Roatan Island.
We will also review our international partnerships to ensure we are creating the best possible environment to create jobs and bring investment into our country. And, diligently review and actively pursue the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union to secure the benefits associated with trade in goods and services. Broaden deepen diplomatic relations with the existing countries and seek diplomatic ties with other countries on the basis of respect for human rights and the recognition of participatory democracy. And, support and encourage the peaceful resolution of international conflicts and diligently participate in the fight against terrorism and money laundering.
Moreover, we will reform the operations and functions of our country’s foreign offices to feverishly pursue and attract investment and to establish and deepen trade in goods and services. And, maintain our obligations to all international conventions and treaties to which we are committed and examine and sign others as they become available and to the extent that they are consistent with our foreign policy.
Our approach will be flexible, yet purposeful, with the protection and advancement of the interests of the people of our country always being paramount.