White House Statement on the Meeting Between the President and Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Philip George Seaga in Kingston, Jamaica

April 7, 1982

The President of the United States of America, Mr. Ronald Reagan, who is on a visit to Jamaica, paid a courtesy call on His Excellency Sir Florizel Glasspole and held discussions this afternoon with the Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Edward Seaga.

In the discussions with the President, Prime Minister Seaga expressed the appreciation of the Jamaican Government for the assistance which the United States Government has provided for Jamaica's economic recovery program. The Prime Minister noted that since his official visit to Washington in January 1981, a number of issues that had been raised at that time have been carried out. He noted the following:

-- The signing of the Double Taxation Agreement, which facilitates the holding of conventions in Jamaica by giving the same opportunities to write off business expenses against U.S. tax liability as if the conventions took place in North America;

-- The purchase of 1.6 million tons of bauxite for the U.S. Strategic Stockpile, which partially offset the reduction in Jamaica's export earnings from bauxite caused by cuts of bauxite/alumina production last year;

-- The provisions of balance of payment support through the U.S./Jamaica Bilateral Economic Development Program, which has enabled the importation of raw materials and other essential supplies;

-- The establishment of the U.S. Business Committee in Jamaica under the cochairmanship of Mr. David Rockefeller and Mr. William Sneath, which is serving as a catalyst for the promotion of investment, technical assistance, and tourism. This Committee has so far initiated 46 investment proposals involving U.S. $130 million.

The Prime Minister emphasized that these special assistance programs have been fully and effectively utilized by Jamaica to produce a strong turnaround in the first year of the economic recovery program. He pointed in particular to the following:

-- A growth rate of 1.8 percent in 1981, the first such positive growth since 1973;

-- A balance-of-payments surplus at the end of the first year of the program -- the first since 1974;

-- Repayment of all outstanding arrears by March 31, 1982, 9 months ahead of program schedule with the IMF;

-- Continued reduction of the unemployment rate;

-- Reduction of the inflation rate from 28 percent in 1980 to 4.8 percent in 1981;

-- Commencement of the restoration of the tourist trade, with hotel occupancy levels now of nearly 90 percent;

-- Receipt of some 500 new investment proposals with a total capital investment potential of U.S. $800 million.

The President was impressed with the turnaround in the Jamaican economy. He was pleased that U.S. assistance programs had helped support the Jamaican economic recovery program. He noted Jamaica's well-established democratic and constitutional traditions, its respect for human dignity, and its strong, just, judicial and parliamentary systems. The President took note of Jamaica's severe economic and social difficulties and pledged the continued support of the United States in helping to overcome these difficulties.

The President congratulated the Prime Minister on the success of the first year of the economic recovery program and agreed with the Prime Minister's statement that this success had in large part been possible because of the determination of the Jamaican people to earn their way out of the problems of the past through investment and trade.

In these respects, the President noted, Jamaica was already giving emphasis to many of the strategies proposed in the Caribbean Basin Initiative. Both leaders agreed that the initiative's strategy to expand domestic production, strengthen the private sector, promote trade and investment, and pursue sound self-help measures was fully consistent with the recovery program being carried out in Jamaica.

Both leaders underlined the need for a concerted comprehensive effort to solve the economic problems of the countries in the Caribbean Basin area. The expanded market opportunities contained in the Caribbean Basin Initiative proposals offered a particularly important stimulus for economic development in the region.

They agreed that in the case of the eastern Caribbean special attention should also be given to the urgent infrastructure needs of the countries.

The President and the Prime Minister reviewed recent developments in Central America and the Caribbean, and noted with pleasure that the people of El Salvador have, in the March 28 elections, demonstrated overwhelmingly their commitment to the establishment of free democratic institutions in that country.

The President of the United States expressed appreciation for the hospitality shown to him and Mrs. Reagan and their entire delegation during their visit and said that it would serve to further strengthen the friendly relations exisiting between the two countries.

Note: The President met with Prime Minister Seaga at Jamaica House, the executive office building of the Prime Minister.

Following the meeting, the President went to the residence of Loren E. Lawrence, U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica, where he and Mrs. Reagan stayed during their visit to Jamaica.