Mon | Nov 30, 2020

Looking back, Looking forward | Jamaica on track to achieve Sustainable Development Goals

Published:Monday | November 19, 2018 | 12:00 AMKamina Johnson Smith/Contributor
The Empire Windrush.
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Jamaica has enjoyed a record year, as the country remains on track in its pursuit to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, leaving no one behind.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade (MFAFT) continues to make significant strides in international relations, which has led to the strengthening of bilateral partnerships, the securing of economic and technical assistance, as well as the implementation of several projects.

Jamaica's renewed commitment to this regional body was concretised with our assumption of chairmanship of the Conference of Heads of State and Government (COFCOR) of CARICOM from July 1- December 31.

The ministry has embarked on various public education and sensitisation initiatives, including community outreach programmes and production of brochures and leaflets aimed at increasing both local awareness and ease of travel and work within CARICOM.

Much of what Jamaica has been able to achieve in advancing our domestic goals has been dependent on building bridges with partner countries and organisations. Over the course of the past year, we continued to pursue a robust strategy of increasing the scope and degree of engagement with our bilateral partners in support of the Government's strategic focus on providing security, growing the economy, creating jobs, and advancing our overall development objectives.

This strategy has delivered notable results in several areas ranging from security, disaster-risk management and climate-change adaptation to human resource development and trade and investment. This has included:

- The signing of the US$4.5 million Child Protection Compact Partnership between Jamaica and the USA.

- Spanish language training offered to tourism sector workers and teachers through the Cervantes Institute in Spain.

- China granted Jamaica 250 million RMB yuan for developmental projects, including the erection of a hospital.

- A visa waiver was granted to Jamaican nationals travelling to Namibia for tourism and business purposes following Prime Minister Holness' official visit.

- Formalisation of the visa waiver to Russia on the basis of reciprocity, thereby providing visa-free entry for Jamaican nationals.

Our bilateral partners have continued to support the GOJ's strategic goal of human resource development. In the last five months we have had several offers of scholarships and short-term training courses, including from China, India, Japan, Chile, Brazil, Russia, Romania, Mexico, Turkey, and Egypt.

 

Consular, Diaspora and protocol

 

The building of two basic schools in Wakefield, Trelawny, and Mount Pleasant in Portland in July of this year funded by members of the Toronto Carpenters Union in Canada in collaboration with Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation and Food For The Poor Canada

In response to the myriad issues affecting the returning residents community, the ministry was instrumental in establishing the returning residents task force with critical stakeholders such as the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Ministry of National Security, and Jamaica Customs Agency.

The publication of the Safety and Security Handbook for those Jamaicans seeking to return home and those who have already returned. The book outlines procedures/guidelines, contact information, safety tips on the same.

Consular Affairs Department in collaboration with the British High Commission in Kingston and other partners has treated with 29 reported Windrush cases, 21 of which were in direct response to MFAFT newspaper advertisements placed in print media.

One thousand and ninety-three persons of Jamaican heritage have received documentation confirming their British status while a further 722 were granted citizenship under the Windrush scheme between April and July this year.

The ministry with the assistance of the Jamaica Defence Force, Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Ministry of Health and Colombian authorities secured the safe return of 28 fishermen whose vessel was engulfed with fire in Colombian waters.

 

Foreign Trade

 

The New National Foreign Trade Policy was adopted by Cabinet in October 2017, with a public launch held on October 4 together with the launch of the consultancy on the National Trade Information Portal.

Since the start of this year, Jamaica has been at the helm of the ACP Group's work to develop its positions on a successor arrangement post-2020, by way of a negotiating mandate.

Technical work to roll over the EPA into a new CARIFORUM-UK trade agreement post-Brexit is close to being finalised.

 

Multilateral Affairs

 

Jamaica assumed presidency of the African Caribbean and Pacific Council of Ministers in February 2018.

Jamaica was elected to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (UN)for the three year term 2019-2021.

Prime Minister Holness, accompanied by Minister Johnson Smith, led Jamaica's delegation to the 73rd Session of the annual United Nations General Assembly.

Jamaica successfully fielded the candidature of Carleen Gardner for re-election to the International Civil Service Commission for the period 2019-2022.

Kamina Johnson Smith is the minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade.