Newly reappointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, says she will be giving priority to convening the External Support Coordination Committee.
The committee, an inter-Ministerial mechanism, aims to ensure coherence in engagement with external partners and improve communication between the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
It is also focused on ensuring that offers of assistance meet Jamaica’s priority needs at this time, that gaps are covered, and that methods of accountability and transparency are devised relating to assistance during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
Speaking with JIS News after being sworn into office at King’s House on Monday (September 7), Senator Johnson Smith explained that “the Prime Minister and Cabinet had mandated me to establish [the committee] when the pandemic manifested itself significantly here in Jamaica, to assess where we are and to see what the new needs are, if any, so that we can better align international partnerships and support with national needs”.
She said that focus will also be placed on advancing the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council and the Global Jamaica Diaspora Youth Council, both of which were convened in January and were scheduled to be launched formally in March.
“The pandemic, again, impacted on that, and accordingly, we will be ensuring that we pull the councils back together and ensure that we not only launch but set a work plan for the next two years,” Senator Johnson Smith told JIS News.
Other areas of priority include deepening international partnerships, both traditional and non-traditional, focusing on trade and supporting the growth of exports.
“Very important to the regrowth and recovery of our economy… is ensuring that we have the relationships that support us, that within CARICOM, not only are we engaging and promoting the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) agenda and the CARICOM Single Market (CSM) agenda but ensuring that those are activities that are aligned with how we recover stronger,” Senator Johnson Smith said.
“So [we are focused on] trade, food security, ensuring that the strategic action plan is being implemented as we had sought to do coming out of the commission that was led by [former] Prime Minister Bruce Golding,” she added.
“There is a lot of work to do… but we are committed to the task and we will take it forward in Jamaica’s interest,” Senator Johnson Smith said.