News Releases

UWI Senior Exec Selected for US Congress Hearing on Caribbean Policy

For Release Upon Receipt - August 19, 2016


The UWI Regional Headquarters, Jamaica. 19 August 2016.  Recently appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor of Global Affairs at The University of the West Indies (The UWI), Ambassador Dr Richard Bernal was one of only three persons selected to speak  at a US Congress Hearing on Caribbean Policy on July 14, 2016.  Following the passing of a bill: H.R. 4939 United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act of 2016 on June 13, 2016, Ambassador Dr Bernal was invited to the congressional hearing for gathering and analysing information to develop a policy based on the bill for US engagement with the Caribbean region. 

The H.R. 4939 ACT and subsequent hearing was directed by the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. According to documentation from the Subcommittee, this legislation “seeks to increase engagement with the governments of the Caribbean region, the Caribbean diaspora community in the United States, and the private sector and civil society in both the United States and the Caribbean, and for other purposes”. The policy for US engagement with the Caribbean region will address issues such as security, illicit drug trafficking, diplomacy with Caribbean governments, economic diversification, trade and investment and employment.  

US Republican Congressman and Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Jeff Duncan, further contextualised the hearing, noting that it was aimed at examining “the opportunities and potential the Caribbean presents for US businesses and the strategic importance of building a stronger US-Caribbean partnership”. 

Ambassador Dr Bernal, who is a professional economist with over 40 years of experience

was appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor Global Affairs at The UWI in 2015.  Ambassador Dr Bernal has given testimonies to several Committees of Congress (House and Senate) and the US International Trade Commission on issues of concern to the Caribbean during his career and has authored over 100 publications on the subjects of global economy and international economic issues.

In his testimony - which were his personal views – he referenced how the region was affected by the economic slowdown as a result of the global financial crisis which erupted in late 2008 and the fact that there has been an overall slow rate of economic growth. He stated, “The U.S. as a global superpower and largest economic partner of the Caribbean in trade, investment and tourism can play an important role in assisting the Caribbean to achieving sustainable economic development”. Ambassador Dr Bernal then outlined issues which he believes require urgent attention to facilitate the economic recovery of the Caribbean, including debt, international financial intermediation, security, trade, climate change and energy.

In his closing remarks he proposed, “A democratic, peaceful and prosperous Caribbean Basin is in the interest of the United States of America. Economic development is a critical component of the foundation of stable democratic societies and the best long-term defense against threats to national security. The growth of trade, tourism and investment between CARICOM and the US can contribute to the economic development of the CARICOM countries thereby strengthening a partnership based on shared economic and political ideals”.


Note to the Editor

§  A webcast of the hearing is available via:

§  The full text statement from Ambassador Richard Bernal’s presentation is available at:




More about Ambassador Dr Richard L. Bernal

Ambassador Dr Bernal, a professional economist with over 40 years of experience was educated at the University of the West Indies, University of Pennsylvania, New School for Social Research and the School for Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University. He holds the degrees of B.Sc., MA, Ph.D. (Economics), and MIPP (International Public Policy). One of the 50 Distinguished Graduates of the University of the West Indies. 

Member of the Broad of Directors of the Inter-American Development Bank (2008-2016). 

 Previous to the IADB he was the Director-General of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM) for 8 years with responsibility for trade negotiations for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Cuba and the Dominican Republic. He was Principal Negotiator for Forum of Caribbean States (CARIFORUM) in the negotiation of the CARIFORUM-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement and CARICOM’s lead negotiator and spokesperson in the World Trade Organization and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) negotiations. Ambassador Bernal has been involved in numerous negotiations on behalf of Jamaica and CARICOM, including agreements on investment, intellectual property rights, textiles and apparel, trade, debt, and loans from multilateral financial institutions (IMF, World Bank, and IADB).  

Ambassador Dr Bernal was Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States of America and Permanent Representative to the Organisation of American States (OAS) for the period May 6, 1991 to August 31, 2001. When he demitted office after 10 ½ years, he was the 4th most senior Ambassador in Washington D.C. and Dean of the Caribbean Diplomatic Corps. Ambassador Bernal has given testimonies to several Committees of Congress (House and Senate) and the US International Trade Commission on issues of concern to the Caribbean.  

Ambassador Dr Bernal has conducted meetings with prime ministers, presidents, the heads of international organizations and CEOs on multinational corporations and banks. He has deputised for the Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Minister of Foreign Affairs. 

Previous to his diplomatic posting, he was Chief Executive Officer of a commercial bank. He has also worked in the Bank of Jamaica (central bank) and the Planning Institute/Agency of Jamaica and as Advisor to the Minister of Finance on external debt management and stabilization and adjustment policy.  

For 7 years he taught international economics and development economics at the University of the West Indies. He is Honorary Professor at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies of the University of the West Indies. While at the university he was active with trade unions, NGOs and churches. 

Ambassador Dr Bernal has published over 100 articles in scholarly journals, books, and monographs (some available at as well as opinion editorials in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and the Miami Herald. Three books:  

Globalization, Trade and Economic Development. A Study of the CARIFORM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).  

Dragon in the Caribbean. China’s Global Re-Positioning. Challenges and Opportunities for the Caribbean (Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, April, 2014). 

The Influence of Small States on Superpowers: Jamaica and U.S. Foreign Policy (Lanham: Lexington Publishers, July, 2015). 

He has appeared on McNeil-Lehrer report, CNN, PBS and BBC radio. Has been quoted in the Financial Times, Washington Post, New York Times and Washington Times. Numerous interviews in Caribbean press, newspapers and radio.  


About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in BarbadosJamaicaTrinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. For more information, visit

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)