Official Visit to Jamaica by Dr. the Honourable Keith Rowley,
Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
17th – 21st July 2016
Dr. the Honourable Keith Rowley, Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, paid an official visit to Jamaica from 17th-21st July 2016. The Prime Minister’s visit to Jamaica follows the acceptance of an invitation by the Most Honourable Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica, for bilateral talks on several issues of mutual concern, including the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), immigration and other consular matters, trade, energy and air services, and importantly general strengthening of relations between the two countries.
Prime Minister Rowley was accompanied by Senator the Honourable Dennis Moses, Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs, the Honourable Stuart Young, Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs and in the Office of the Prime Minister, the Honourable Orville London, Chief Secretary, Tobago House of Assembly and His Excellency Fitzgerald Jeffrey, High Commissioner for Trinidad and Tobago to Jamaica. Also accompanying Prime Minister Rowley were Mr Prakash Ramadhar, Member of Parliament from the opposition and officials from the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs. Jamaica’s delegation included Senator the Honourable Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, and a team of Cabinet ministers and senior officials from various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Both Prime Ministers reaffirmed the importance of the visit as a means of strengthening political dialogue, renewing bilateral cooperation and exchanging views on a range of common regional and multilateral issues. The discussions took place within the context of the longstanding history of shared values, respect, friendship and traditional cooperation that exist between both countries at the levels of government, business and our people.
The main issues discussed were:
In a spirit of renewed understanding, the two Heads agreed to strengthen their bilateral interaction, particularly through the early conclusion of the Framework Bilateral Cooperation Agreement currently under consideration. The Agreement will include the establishment of a Joint Commission to advance functional cooperation between both countries and will focus on collaboration in areas of mutual interest including tourism, transportation, security, technical and cultural cooperation.
The Prime Ministers discussed developments concerning immigration issues particularly denials of entry and treatment of Jamaican nationals. The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago provided an update on actions taken to improve the facilities at Piarco International Airport for members of the travelling public who are denied entry and to conduct further training of immigration officers and other border employees. The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago confirmed that specialized training has been recently concluded for immigration officers at the airport in an effort to address concerns that were previously raised. It was underscored that there was need for ongoing training and public education on the legal framework to promote and protect hassle free travel. They also addressed other related matters arising from previous bilateral consultations, such as the exchange of information and statistics on travel between the two countries. They reaffirmed the importance of the Treaty’s goal of free movement to the regional project and agreed that it was essential that CARICOM nationals be treated with dignity at ports of entry.
Following a candid exchange on consular issues, both Prime Ministers agreed to address the matters related to the deportation of Jamaican nationals and attendant difficulties which were outlined. It was acknowledged that an accelerated process had already resulted in a significant number of returns while the processing of other detainees is underway.
With respect to trade cooperation, both sides committed to exploring new ways in which they could collaborate to improve relations between the countries and specifically to stimulate movement of goods, services, and capital. They further committed to the continued promotion of investment from Jamaica into Trinidad and Tobago and vice versa. They encouraged closer cooperation between the private sector in both countries and agreed to establish mechanisms to facilitate closer trade, cooperation and resolution of trade issues.
Recognizing the importance of energy to trade, productivity, and competitiveness, the Prime Ministers discussed the issues of energy subsidies and pricing of petroleum products as well as cooperation in renewable energy initiatives. They agreed to continue discussions at the technical and ministerial levels.
The Prime Ministers underscored the importance of improving air and sea transportation services in the Region for the effective operation of the CARICOM Single Market. They noted the developments relating to Caribbean Airlines and the need for increased dialogue, cooperation and collaboration between stakeholders in both countries, to ensure that the interests of all parties are taken into account in the decisions made.
In this regard, the Heads acknowledged the pivotal role that air transportation plays in the tourism sector and noted the importance of increased collaboration in multi-destination tourism. They also agreed to deepen cooperation in tourism development at the bilateral level.
Concerning security cooperation, the Prime Ministers discussed the threats to regional peace and security, including the negative impact of transnational organised crime on the further economic development of the region. They referred to the Decisions of the recent Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government held in Guyana, to counter the security challenges and to protect the borders of Member States. This includes the review of the CARICOM Crime and Security Strategy (CCSS), as well as other measures to stem criminal activities in relation to transnational organised crimes, such as the illegal trade in narcotics, small arms and money laundering. They underscored the importance of resource mobilization and the sustainable financing of the region’s security architecture. Importantly, they agreed to explore possibilities for joint initiatives towards ensuring a peaceful and more secure environment for their citizens.
The Prime Ministers highlighted the strong cultural bonds between both countries, which have been enhanced over the years, fostered by the diversity of peoples and the rich blend of music, art, dance and the cuisine of both nations. The Heads agreed to strengthen cultural cooperation in a number of areas, including in sport, fashion, film, as well as the exchange of ideas, people and resources to further develop the cultural /creative industries.
Both leaders reiterated their commitment to regional cooperation, especially within the context of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). The Prime Ministers discussed ways in which both countries could actively contribute to the success of the reform process in CARICOM and in accelerating the implementation and use of the CSME, as well as to build competitiveness to stimulate growth and create employment. Both Prime Ministers commended the progress made in the revitalization of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) and committed to further efforts to improve its efficiency and work, including its increased visibility and the strengthening of its internal structures.
The Prime Ministers reflected on the status of implementation of the CSME regimes in both countries. While they recognized that significant progress had been made in the goods regime, they also acknowledged that more work was required in this vital area as well as in the other regimes, specifically skilled nationals, services and the right of establishment. Regarding Free Movement of Skilled Community Nationals, Jamaica informed that it has amended its legislation to provide for the recognition of all agreed categories. With respect to the status of the inclusion of additional skills categories in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago’s legislation, Trinidad and Tobago informed that in the interim, the categories not yet provided for in the existing legislation are facilitated administratively. The Prime Ministers also discussed labour markets and Jamaica’s interest in having the agreed categories expanded. It was noted that enhanced capacity to produce and use labour market information would make more and better information available for policy-making. This would contribute to the identification of skills needed for the development of target sectors and industries in the CSME. .
Noting the importance of increased intra-regional investment through the right of establishment, the Prime Ministers agreed to examine carefully the actions required, such as the adoption of requisite legislation and policies to fully implement this regime. With respect to services, they agreed to support the development of Regional Strategic Plans for services including those identified in the CARICOM Strategic Plan 2015-2019.
Both Prime Ministers reiterated the importance of their cooperation in the multi-lateral arena including issues such as the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and addressing Climate Change.
In addition, the Heads emphasized the importance of and the benefits to be derived from the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) by developing countries, and in particular, Small Island Developing States, such as those in the Region. This was reflected in the agreement of Prime Minister Rowley to address the 22nd Session of the General Assembly of the International Seabed Authority.
The Prime Ministers further underscored the significance of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), especially its adopted measures which will assist in the region’s effort to address crime and security issues, including the curtailment of the flow of illegal small arms and light weapons in the region.
Both Leaders agreed that their discussions had been meaningful and illuminating. They undertook to engage as often as necessary to maintain the momentum towards cementing the bonds of friendship and cooperation vital for the advancement of their economies and the well-being of their citizens.
Visit our gallery page to see pictures of the Prime Minister’s visit.