Trinidad PM to lead delegation to Jamaica

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley is leading a six-member delegation to Jamaica on a four-day visit overshadowed by Kingston’s continued concerns at the treatment of its nationals on arrival in this oil-rich twin island republic.

On the eve of his arrival, Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith told the Senate that at least 320 Jamaicans were denied entry into the sister Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country last year, while only two Trinidad and Tobago nationals were denied entry during the same period.

But Johnson Smith said the trend is changing following the intervention of the Jamaican government in March after Port of Spain denied entry to nearly a dozen Jamaicans.

Last month, a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here, stated that items on the agenda for discussion include a range of issues of mutual interest to both countries.

Rowley had told reporters that he had met with Prime Minister Andrew Holness during the Seventh Summit of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) in Cuba and that he wanted to visit Jamaica to put “to bed” the issue of the alleged ill treatment of Jamaican nationals in Trinidad and the resulting disquiet over this allegation.

“We have been informed that on the ground in Jamaica there is a sentiment that is being fuelled that they are not welcome. The Jamaican prime minister and I agreed that the time had come that this matter be put to bed,” Rowley said then.

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Stuart Young, told reporters that the delegation would include former legal affairs minister Prakash Ramadhar and that an invitation to another opposition legislator had not been accepted.

During his visit in Jamaica, Rowley and Holness will hold talks towards the resolution of long standing bilateral and regional issues, including the Implementation of the CARICOM Single Market Economy (CSME), and the related Free Movement of Community Nationals and Immigration matters, Trade and Energy Cooperation and Air Transportation.

A statement from the Office of the Jamaica Prime Minister indicated that the two CARICOM leaders will discuss the signing of a Framework Agreement and the establishment of a Joint Commission, which is currently under negotiation, to provide a structured medium for bilateral discussions and cooperation in areas of mutual interest. The prime ministers are also expected to engage on the CARICOM integration process.

The Trinidad and Tobago prime minister is expected to meet with the Chairman of the CARICOM/ CARIFORUM Review Commission, pay a Courtesy Call on the Governor General and meet with the Leader of the Opposition.

Rowley is also scheduled to engage with heads of private sector bodies and entities on trade and business development.

During his visit, he will also address the 22nd Session of the General Assembly of the International Seabed Authority, which is underway at the Jamaica Conference Centre. Trinidad and Tobago played an instrumental role in the development of the Law of the Sea.

Rowley will also meet with the Vice Chancellor and senior executives of the University of the West Indies (UWI), members of the Diaspora, as well as students from Trinidad and Tobago. In addition, he will have a scheduled event with Trinidadian entrepreneurs in Jamaica.

Antigua Observer