Jamaica’s new ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Ralph Thomas, officially presented his Letter of Credence to the President of the United States, Barak Obama during a ceremony held in the oval office at the White House on Thursday, September 17, 2015.
President Obama in his remarks said, “Jamaica and the United States are tied together by history, culture, family and most importantly by friendship.” He expressed strong support for the government and people of Jamaica and for the continued development of the special relationship that exists between the two countries.
In recounting his visit to Jamaica in April, President Obama said he was heartened by the warm reception he received from the people of Jamaica and pointed out that in the meetings he had with Prime Minister the Most Honorable Portia Simpson Miller, great progress was made to deepen and strengthen our cooperation in the region.
The US president said that the town hall meeting at the University of the West Indies reaffirmed his conviction that the young people of Jamaica are poised to lead their country to new and greater heights and that the US continues to value Jamaica as a true leader of the Caribbean.
In presenting his Letter of Credence to the President of the United States, Ambassador Ralph Thomas said that during his tenure, he would work to further deepen and strengthen the relationship between Jamaica and the US. “Over the years, Jamaica and the United States have shared a strong fraternal relationship which has been to our benefit and it is my firm intention to facilitate as much as possible the further strengthening of this bond.”
Ambassador Thomas noted that the discussions that took place between Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and President Obama identified priorities for engaging with the United States, including issues such as: energy; trade and investment; competitiveness; youth-related matters; immigration and deportation.. These he said are key issues he intends to focus on while in office.
He pointed out that the United States remains our most important trading partner and the island continues to attract a significant number of American tourists. He said it is his aim to work at increasing the trade ties and tourism arrivals between the two countries, as we both seek to cement the economic recovery process and increase opportunities for our people.
Jamaica values the tremendous support now being extended with respect to development financing in the areas of energy; climate change and disaster management which emanated from the high-level meetings held earlier this year, with Vice President Biden.
Ambassador Thomas reiterated the Government’s deepest appreciation for the invaluable assistance provided by the United States Government in helping Jamaica to secure critical funding from the International Financial Institutions, in particular the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
He noted that Jamaica has made significant strides with respect to meeting the targets set by these institutions. The austerity effects on our social programmers have been grave but the Government is steadfastly pursuing various avenues to spur growth and attract investments to the island, which will ultimately be to the benefit of our people, especially the less fortunate in our society”, he said.
Jamaica’s envoy to Washington was appointed Jamaica’s twelfth ambassador to the United States by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller on August 21, 2015. Previously, he was appointed Ambassador to the Republic of China in 2013 and focused on strengthening relationships between the two countries in key areas of development.
A former teaching fellow at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona School of Business and Management, Ambassador Thomas has experience in multinational banking and trade finance and served as Vice President of the Bank of New York during his twenty two years with that institution.