JAMAICA yesterday signed a framework agreement and three Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with the Republic of Kenya as both governments committed to strengthen relations in trade, tourism, culture, and a number of other areas.
The commitment was sealed yesterday at a ceremony and press conference held at Jamaica House, where the agreement on cooperation, and MOUs for cooperation in political consultation, tourism, sports, culture and heritage were signed.
The cooperation forms part of the State visit of president of the Republic of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta to the island from August 5 to 7.
President Kenyatta and his wife, Margaret Gakuo Kenyatta, were invited as special guests of the State for Jamaica's 57th independence anniversary celebrations.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the recent appointment of Kenya's first high commissioner to Jamaica reflects the growing relationship between Jamaica and Kenya, and demonstrates Kenyatta's personal commitment to the Jamaica-Kenya partnership and developing closer ties with the Caribbean community.
He said bilateral talks with the president centred on critical areas of interest to both countries to increase trade and investment ties and expand economic and technical cooperation.
“We have agreed that we must now optimise the potential of historic relations to yield concrete benefits in our cooperation effort,” Holness noted, pointing out that the relations between Jamaica and the African country are deeply rooted in historical connections with the continent, predating the beginning of diplomatic relations in 1976.
Prime Minister Holness highlighted that Jamaica's first national hero, Marcus Mosiah Garvey had significant influence on the first prime minister of Kenya, the late Jomo Kenyatta, President Kenyatta's father. He noted that the senior Kenyatta had been an ardent advocate for Kenyan independence and a student of Garvey's teachings on unification and pan Africanism.
He said these longstanding fraternal connections between the two countries have helped to inspire and deepen solidarity between them. “The president and I agreed that improving trade, goods and services, increasing investments, and facilitating the movement of people must be central to our strategy,” Prime Minister Holness stated.
He said Kenya is among the top 10 fastest-growing economies in Africa which in 2019 is the region with and argued that with Kenya showing positive macroeconomic results similar to Jamaica, it was time to move beyond fraternal bonds and create real and measurable economic and commercial activities.
He outlined that the framework agreement signed by Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith and her counterpart, Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Monica Juma, is intended to create a structured mechanism for regular dialogue to pursue meaningful and defined cooperation activities, in trade, agriculture, sports, education, tourism, culture and health.
At the same time, he noted that at the multilateral level, Jamaica and Kenya have actively collaborated on issues within the context of the Commonwealth, the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) group of states, and at the United Nations.
President Kenyatta said the visit had served to re-establish old links and deepen the bonds of friendship between the nations. He emphasised that the MOUs had taken bilateral relations between Jamaica and Kenya to another level, particularly in the area of sport where Jamaica and Kenya are powerhouses, in the sprints, middle- and long-distance races, respectively.
“There is definitely room for us to partner here, and this co-operation will, therefore, leverage the existing cooperative advantages to strengthen sports through the development of common training facilities for the benefit of the young people of both our countries,” he stated.
Kenyatta said his country and Jamaica must also deepen economic partnership to develop and advance trade, which he said is currently almost non-existent between the two.
“We encourage Jamaican investors to come together through our respective chambers and take advantage of the opportunities that our two countries offer for further economic integration,” he stated.
Kenyatta also stressed that his Government remains steadfast in the push for the conclusion of a successful agreement and the accompanying regional protocols in time for expiration of the Cotonou Agreement in February next year.
Today, the Kenyan leader is slated to pay a floral tribute at the National Heroes' Park and visit the Denbigh Agricultural and Industrial Food Show in May Pen, Clarendon, as well as attend the annual Independence Day Grand Gala at the National Stadium.
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