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Speech

I have had the honour, this afternoon, of engaging in mutually beneficial discussions with my esteemed colleague, Prime Minister Abdullah and I am pleased to make a statement on the outcome of our talks.
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between Jamaica and Malaysia in 1975, our two countries have enjoyed friendly and constructive relations. These relations have expanded over the past few years in a variety of areas of cooperation, at both the bilateral and multilateral levels.
At the invitation of the government of Jamaica and following former Prime Minister P.J Patterson’s visit to Malaysia in 2003, we are pleased that Prime Minister Abdullah agreed to pay an official visit to Jamaica.
The visit, and the bilateral talks we have just had, are in line with Jamaica’s foreign policy objectives of expanding relations with Malaysia and our other Asian partners. The decision of my government to host this important visit is a practical demonstration of our commitment to deepen our relations in Asia, within the framework of South-South cooperation.
During our meeting, we discussed a wide range of issues of importance to both our countries. We exchanged views and information on the current political, economic and social situations in our countries and shared our approaches towards achieving our national development plans and objectives. In addition, we discussed regional and international issues of common interest.
The outcome of my meeting with Prime Minister Abdullah is reflected in a joint statement, to be released shortly.
We have agreed to strengthen and advance the relationship between our two countries, with the prime objective of raising it to a higher level of cooperation, through the development of a strategic bilateral partnership. The facilitation of trade and investment opportunities and the promotion of technical cooperation are key elements of this strengthened partnership.
We have therefore agreed to give priority attention to promoting and implementing specific programmes in the economic, trade and investment, scientific, technological, educational and social fields. I will highlight a few of the understandings reached: Trade and investment: Prime Minister Abdullah and I examined the current trade and investment flows between Jamaica and Malaysia and agreed to undertake joint action to promote business opportunities, as well as bilateral trade and investment.
We are agreed that trade and investment play a critical and important role in national development.
The other specific areas we have identified for possible cooperation include energy, infrastructure development, construction, agriculture and sports:
Energy: we have agreed to explore the opportunities for additional supplies of liquefied natural gas, as well as offshore petroleum exploration, in the face of ever-increasing energy costs.
Infrastructure: Jamaica and Malaysia have successfully collaborated in the recent past in the area of infrastructure development, in particular, highway construction. I therefore updated Prime Minister Abdullah on the highway 2000 millennium development project. The Prime Minister will tomorrow have a chance to see, first-hand, the fruits of our partnership when he tours the first corridor of 80 kilometers of highway 2000. I am pleased that today we have identified further opportunities for cooperation between our countries in road infrastructure.
Construction services: we have noted Malaysia’s interest in providing construction services to Jamaica, particularly in the area of low cost housing, and we will be examining potential opportunities for their involvement in this sector.
Agriculture: opportunities have also been identified for collaboration in agriculture, especially in the effort to combat lethal yellowing disease, which has been adversely affecting the Jamaican coconut industry. Such collaboration would include the procurement of germplasm from Malaysia for Jamaica’s coconut replanting and rehabilitation programme.
Sports: Prime Minister Abdullah and I attach similar importance to the critical role of sports in fostering national unity and the development of a disciplined and competitive society. To this end, we agreed to work towards the conclusion of a memorandum of understanding on sports, which would include cooperation in the areas of track and field, as well as netball, fields in which Jamaica excels internationally, and in the sport of badminton, in which Malaysia has achieved international distinction.
Regional and international matters
On the regional front, Prime Minister Abdullah and I updated each other on current political and economic developments in the CARICOM and Asian areas. I briefed the Prime Minister on the progress being made towards regional integration via the establishment of the CSM. I also provided an account of the efforts that CARICOM is making to support the process of national reconstruction in Haiti and its readmission into the councils of CARICOM.
By way of our discussions, we have reaffirmed our shared views on a variety of matters at the multilateral level, which are underpinned by our strong adherence to democratic values, the principle of multilateralism and South-South cooperation, particularly within the context of international institutions such as the Commonwealth, the Non-aligned Movement (NAM), the Group of 77 and China, and the G15.
We reaffirmed our commitment to the G15 in the coordination and promotion of the interests of developing countries and agreed that the key development challenge facing the south was to break the vicious cycle between poverty and marginalization. In this respect, we concur that non-governmental organizations and community-based actors have a critical role to play.
In conclusion, the official visit to Jamaica by the Prime Minister of Malaysia and his contingency of Cabinet Ministers and senior government officials is both timely and significant.
My Government is therefore committed to ensuring that the undertakings we entered into today are fully realised.