- Jamaica hosted the Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting in Kingston from July 2 to 4, as part of preparations for the Third International Conference on SIDS.
- The 5th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference was held at the Hilton Rose Hall hotel in Montego Bay from June 16 to June 19, drawing a record number of attendees.
The Full Story
During 2013, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, under the charge of Senator the Hon. A.J. Nicholson, continued to cement its relations with international and regional partners, as it sought to improve foreign policy and trade prospects.
COMMUNITY OF LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN STATES (CELAC) SUMMIT
Early in 2013, Minister Nicholson attended the 1st EU-CELAC Summit/7th EU-LAC Summit in Santiago, Chile, which brought together European, Latin American and Caribbean Heads of State and Government to address an Alliance for Sustainable Development to Promote Investments of Social and Environmental Quality.
During the summit, the leaders adopted a political declaration and expanded the action plan previously adopted in the Madrid Summit in 2010 for bi-regional cooperation. The action plan focussed on a number of developmental issues, including science, research, innovation and technology; sustainable development; environment; climate change; biodiversity; energy; regional integration and interconnectivity to promote social inclusion and cohesion; migration; education and employment; the world drug problem; gender; investments and entrepreneurship for sustainable development.
A total of 23 non-resident Heads of Missions arrived in the island in February, joining resident Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Charge d’Affaires for a busy schedule of activities for the 15th annual Diplomatic Week from February 3 to February 8.
Among the activities for the week were: a service of thanksgiving; a cultural evening, which showcased Jamaican culture and international cuisine; addresses to the diplomats by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller; Senator Nicholson, as well as the Ministers of Finance and Planning, National Security, and Science, Technology, Energy and Mining – Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, Hon. Peter Bunting, and Hon. Phillip Paulwell. There was also a black tie reception and diplomatic dinner hosted by the Governor-General.
The annual Diplomatic Week aimed to: update Heads of Mission on Government policy touching on foreign trade and external affairs; to highlight the work and service of diplomats and their contribution to the cordial relations that exist between Jamaica and other countries; to facilitate deeper bilateral relations on issues of mutual interest; and to promote cultural exchange and mutual understanding.
TWENTY-FOURTH INTER-SESSIONAL MEETING OF THE CONFERENCE OF HEADS OF GOVERNMENT
To further cement Jamaica’s relationship with its regional partners, Minister Nicholson attended the 24th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, from February 18 and 19. Conference leaders from across the region met to discuss a myriad of issues pertinent to the Community and its development.
Among the issues discussed were the strengthening of the regional crime and security agenda; the Arms Trade Treaty; CARICOM’s reform process; the regional architecture for financial stability; the CARICOM regional Aid-for-Trade Strategy; and the region’s preparations for the United States’ Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
CARIBBEAN REGIONAL PREPARATORY MEETING
Jamaica hosted the Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting in Kingston from July 2 to 4, as part of preparations for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), to be held in Samoa in 2014. The preparatory meeting was one of three regional meetings held in 2013, as groundwork for the Samoa Conference.
The event provided a forum for Caribbean countries to formulate their response in relation to commitments made under the 1994 Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) and the 2005 Mauritius Strategy of Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action (MSI).
FIFTH BIENNIAL JAMAICA DIASPORA CONFERENCE
The 5th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference was held at the Hilton Rose Hall hotel in Montego Bay from June 16 to June 19, drawing a record number of attendees. The event, which was re-calibrated, re-packaged and re-branded, with a change in the event logo, and intensified marketing, was held under the theme ‘A Nation on a mission: Jamaica – Diaspora Partnership for Development’.
The 2013 conference sought to build on the legacy of Jamaica 50, by exploring defined opportunities for the Diaspora to expand their business interests in Jamaica through increased trade and investment, large and small. It was particularly focused on trade and investment, as well as broadening the Diaspora’s contribution to health and education. A key focus of the discussions and deliberations during the event was also the country’s long-term National Development Plan, Vision 2030 Jamaica.
Following the conference, a Post Diaspora Implementation Council (PDIC) was established to execute the recommendations put forward.
VISITS AND BILATERAL MEETINGS
Over the course of the year, visits and bilateral meetings remained a useful mechanism for strengthening relations with key partners. President of Haiti, His Excellency Michel Martelly, and his 11-member delegation came to Jamaica for a three-day State Visit.
He participated in talks on a range of bilateral, regional and multilateral issues with the Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller and members of the Cabinet, Heads of Executive Agencies and the Private Sector. The visit further cemented Jamaica’s relationship with its Caribbean neighbour.
Also in the year, Jamaica welcomed a member of the British Royal family, His Royal Highness, Prince Michael of Kent, who arrived on April 15 for a five-day visit. During his visit, he took part in several activities to mark the National Road Safety Council’s 20th anniversary, which included an official trip to the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre and the Mona Geo-Informatics Institute, at the University of the West Indies.
In June, a Working Mission from Burkina Faso, led by the First Lady of the West African country, Her Excellency Chantal Compaoré, visited the country for a six-day working visit. The group arrived in Jamaica to learn about its experience in preventing adolescent pregnancies and supporting adolescent mothers.
Additionally, a delegation from Botswana arrived in Jamaica in September on a fact finding mission to learn more about the structure and processes of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) and how it goes about disseminating Government information to the public.
INTERNATIONAL TRADE CENTRE (ITC) MEETING
The Ministry, in collaboration with the International Trade Centre (ITC), hosted a consultative workshop for stakeholders on non-tariff measures (NTMs), in 2013. NTMs are policy measures on export and import, other than ordinary customs tariffs, that can have an effect on the international trade of goods. Minister Nicholson urged private sector entities to become more vigilant in monitoring, identifying, documenting and reporting suspected use of NTMs, which can affect trade.
Jamaica appointed a number of new High Commissioners and Ambassadors in 2013. These included: Ambassador Ricardo Allicock, Tokyo, Japan; Ambassador Sandra Grant Griffiths, United Mexican States; Ambassador Ralph Thomas, the People’s Republic of China; Ambassador Margaret Jobson, Berlin, Germany; Ambassador Franz Hall, Consul General to Miami; Ambassador Wade Lyn, Honorary Consul for Birmingham and the West Midlands; and Ambassador Carlton Masters as Jamaica’s first Representative to the African Union (AU). Additionally, Ambassador Courtenay Rattray was appointed Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
The year also saw the official opening of a Jamaican Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil, while the Governments of Jamaica and the Solomon Islands established Diplomatic Relations.
LANDMARK ARMS TRADE TREATY
Jamaica was among 10 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to sign the first ever international Treaty to regulate the trade of conventional weapons. The Treaty aims at preventing the flow of arms to conflict regions, as well as the flow of conventional arms to human rights abusers, terrorists, warlords, pirates and gangs.
37th MEETING OF THE CARICOM COUNCIL FOR TRADE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (COTED)
Minister Nicholson also attended the 37th Meeting of the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), where he participated in discussions on CARICOM’s environment policy framework and cooperative efforts regarding climate change, sustainable land management, and renewable energy.
JAMAICA MEETS WITH TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
In December, the Minister met with his Trinidad and Tobago counterpart,
Hon. Winston Dookeran, to iron out problems stemming from an incident in which 13 Jamaicans were refused entry into the twin island republic. The Ministers engaged in a two-day bilateral meeting discussing pertinent issues surrounding the matters of free movement and free trade within the context of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Following the meetings, they signed an agreement outlining the path to take in improving free trade and free movement arrangements between the two countries. It was agreed that there was a need for hassle-free movement for Jamaicans into Trinidad and Tobago, which must be applied in conformity with Community law.
Also, the Trinidad and Tobago Minister said the trade and immigration impasse between the two countries can be solved amicably without the development of a “trade war.” He assured that there was “absolutely” no profiling or targeting of Jamaicans by immigration officials in his country, further informing that 96 per cent of Jamaicans seeking admittance into the country in 2012, were given right of entry.
The Ministry also ensured the raising of Jamaica’s profile in the international fora through successful candidatures to the: Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); United Nations World Tourism Organization; World Heritage Council; and Executive Council of the International Maritime Organization.
COMMONWEALTH HEADS OF GOVERNMENT MEETING
Jamaica participated in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in November 2013, which was held under the theme: ‘Growth with Equity: Inclusive Development’.
This allowed Commonwealth countries to deliberate on a number of issues affecting equitable growth, such as sustainable development; protection of the environment; climate change; good governance; respect for and promotion of human rights; the needs of small and vulnerable states; and international peace and security.
MIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT
The National Policy on International Migration and Development was submitted to Cabinet for consideration and approval. Jamaica also participated actively in the High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in New York in September 2013, where Jamaica shared its national experiences in relation to its migration policy.
Jamaica signed a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with Kuwait in April to encourage and guide future investments into the country. The agreement is part of a broader high-level Ministerial Trade Mission to the Middle East Gulf States of Kuwait, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It forms a crucial part of the Government of Jamaica’s push to transform Jamaica into one of the world’s top four logistics centres.
Additionally, Jamaica signed Tax Information Exchange Treaties with Macau (SAR) China, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland and Finland. These came into force in September 2013.
PUBLIC EDUCATION CAMPAIGN
To address popular misconceptions about the rights and responsibilities of CARICOM Nationals travelling under the CSME Free Movement Regimes, the Foreign Ministry and the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) launched a series of short, dynamic but informative public service announcements.
These “radio blurbs” cover various aspects of the Free Movement Regimes that have been most pertinent and relevant to Jamaican Nationals, such as the procedure for applying for a CARICOM Skills Certificate and the right to work versus the right to land for six months in another Member State.