According to reports, April 8, President Obama landed in Jamaica, as the first U.S. president to step foot on the island since Ronald Reagan visited in 1982, three decades ago. The president was greeted by Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, Luis Moreno, U.S. ambassador to Jamaica, and many other government officials.
Today, Obama will meet with leaders in the Caribbean nation to discuss methods to strengthen the area’s economy, which has been steadily suffering. According to news reports, per capita GDP has fallen by an average of 0.3% annually over the past two decades, putting Jamaica’s economy as the worst in performance in the hemisphere over this course of time.
Poverty has more than doubled since 2007 and the unemployment rate is higher today at more than 14% than it was during the world recession. The country is facing extreme levels of debt, paying more than 8% of GDP in interest, which is approximately twice as much as the indebted countries across Europe, resulting in one of the highest rates in the developing world.
One of the biggest challenges Jamaica faces is its International Monetary Fund agreement, which requires the government to run the annual primary budget surpluses of 7.5%. In comparison, Greece is facing political turmoil, and the country has a budget surplus of 3% for 2015, which is causing major instability.
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