Ambassador the Honourable Dr. Richard L. Bernal, O.J.

CRPC Senior Associate

Ambassador Dr. Richard L. Bernal is the Executive Director–Caribbean, Inter-American Development Bank. Dr. Bernal, a professional economist with over 35 years of experience was educated at the University of the West Indies, University of Pennsylvania, the 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).

He previously was the Director-General of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM) which is responsible for trade negotiations including those in the WTO for the member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Cuba and the Dominican Republic. He was Principal Negotiator for Forum of Caribbean States (CARIFORUM) in the negotiations, which led to the CARIFORUM-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement. ). He was also CARICOM’s lead negotiator in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) negotiations.

Since the late 1980’s, Ambassador Bernal has been lead negotiator in numerous negotiations on behalf of Jamaica and CARICOM, including agreements on investment, intellectual property rights, textiles and apparel, trade agreements, debt reduction agreements and loans from multilateral financial institutions (IMF, World Bank, and IADB).

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. The wide-ranging duties included lobbying the US Congress on trade legislation, the US-EU banana dispute and foreign aid for the Caribbean. 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 such as aid, NAFTA and the Caribbean Basin Initiative. At the OAS, he chaired its highest body, the Permanent Council and committees on hemispheric trade, the Summit of the Americas and the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative, culminating as the most senior Ambassador.

Previous to his diplomatic posting, he was Chief Executive Officer of a commercial bank with merchant bank and trust company subsidiaries, a nationwide branch network and a staff of 400. His early corporate career involved corporate planning, human resource management, marketing and public relations. He has served in various capacities in the Departments of Research and Exchange Control of the Bank of Jamaica (central bank) and the Monetary Studies Programme of the University of the West Indies. He served in the Macroeconomics Division of the Planning Institute/Agency and as Advisor to the Minister of Finance of with particular reference to external debt management and stabilization and adjustment policy. On occasion, Dr. Bernal has deputised for the Minister of Finance of Jamaica at the IMF, IADB and World Bank and at meetings of the Finance Ministers of the Western Hemisphere.

For 7 years he taught international economics and development economics at the University of the West Indies and remains actively involved in academic and policy discussions, delivering papers, examining dissertations and giving lectures. He is a Senior Associate at the Centre for Strategic International Studies in Washington D.C., and is a member of the Harvard University Trade Policy Group, the board of directors of the International Trade Law Institute and the editorial committee of Integration & Trade (journal of the IADB). He is Honorary Professor at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies of the University of the West Indies. He has addressed the Royal Institute of International Affairs, the Joint Assembly of EU-ACP Parliamentarians, the Brookings Institution, the Institute for International Economics, the Inter-American Dialogue, the Heritage Foundation and the Carnegie Endowment for Peace. He has delivered papers at conferences convened by WTO, World Bank, IADB, IMF and the American Bar Association.

Dr. Bernal has published one book and over 100 articles in scholarly journals, books, and monographs (some available at He has also authored articles in financial periodicals and newspapers, including opinion editorials in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. As a spokesperson on international economic issues and economic policy in developing countries, he has been interviewed by the BBC, the Voice of America, National Public Radio, Jim Lehrer Newshour and CNN and quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, Miami Herald, Washington Times, Inside US Trade and the Economist magazine.

He is credited with introducing to trade negotiations and international trade policy the need to take account of the special circumstance of small developing economies. Through his advocacy and publications he effectively advanced policy in this area as the first chair of the Working Group on Small Economies of the FTAA and was instrumental in introducing the topic to the WTO and the Doha Development Agenda.

Ambassador Bernal has a proven capacity for building effective partnerships as is evident in his long association and involvement as an adviser to trade unions, NGO’s, credit unions, consumer organizations, churches and business associations such as chambers of commerce, exporters, manufacturers, farmers and bankers.

He is one of the 50 Distinguished Graduates of the University of the West Indies and the Order of Jamaica takes pride of place among several honours he has received.


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