At the invitation of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller made an official visit to Canada last week.
The visit provided an opportunity to express their best wishes on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Canada and Jamaica. Prime Minister Harper also used the occasion to offer congratulations, on behalf of the people of Canada, to Prime Minister Simpson Miller and the people of Jamaica, on Jamaica's attainment of 50 years of Independence.
The discussion focused on mutual foreign policy priorities, including increasing economic opportunity, strengthening security and institutions and building lasting relationships. The prime ministers pledged closer collaboration in regional and multilateral fora, such as the Organisation of American States, the Commonwealth, and other institutions, to pursue organisational reform on the basis of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
Both leaders recognised the adverse impacts of climate change, particularly on small-island developing states, like Jamaica, and acknowledged commitments to address vulnerabilities in keeping with objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Prime Ministers Simpson Miller and Harper discussed issues related to the status of Middle Income Developing Countries, and the need for those countries to achieve prosperity and sustainable economic growth.
Prime Ministers Harper and Simpson Miller noted that Canada and Jamaica enjoy an enduring relationship in the area of defence, based on extensive bilateral collaboration between the Canadian Forces and the Jamaican Defence Force. Reference was made to cooperation between the two countries including the provision of support to Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, cooperation in Afghanistan, and jointly building and operating the Caribbean Military Aviation School, the Caribbean Counterterrorism Training Centre, Operation Jaguar in 2011, and most recently the Caribbean Military Maritime Training Centre, to provide defence training throughout the region.
Prime Minister Harper also thanked Prime Minister Simpson Miller for Jamaica's support in relation to the establishment of an Operational Support Hub for the Canadian Forces in Jamaica, aimed at improving Canada's ability to support operations to address security challenges and disaster response in the region.
Both leaders noted the progress achieved to date on bilateral security cooperation through the Canadian-supported Anti-Crime Capacity Building Programme and the Counterterrorism Capacity Building Programme.
The leaders pledged to promote greater bilateral trade and investment and to maintain their commitment to reducing barriers to trade. They also committed to moving forward with the Canada-CARICOM trade negotiations.
The prime ministers expressed their satisfaction with development assistance work through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), which supports Jamaica's efforts to strengthen their systems of public financial management and their small and medium size enterprise sector. CIDA's total annual disbursements in the Caribbean amounted to $73.3 million in 2010-11.
Prime Minister Simpson Miller and Prime Minister Harper expressed their satisfaction with the robust state of Canada-Jamaica bilateral relations and expressed optimism in working together for the next fifty years.
Prime Minister Simpson Miller expressed her deep appreciation to Prime Minister Harper for the warm hospitality of the Government and people of Canada during her stay in Ottawa and Toronto.