The Daily Herald – Holness wants increased trade and collaboration with African countries
Holness says that the potential untapped for centuries is within our grasp. Photo courtesy of Loop Jamaica.
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Prime Minister Andrew Holness said there is potential for increased investment and collaboration between Jamaica and African countries, especially in agribusiness and logistics.
He said there are also opportunities for scientific research and collaboration, as well as for investments in healthcare, technological innovation, digitization and the creative economy.
The Prime Minister was making his virtual presentation at the first Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African-Caribbean Community of CARICOM, chaired by President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta.
“There is potential in the agribusiness and logistics sectors, and Jamaican companies have already invested in Africa. Opportunities also exist for scientific research and collaboration, investment in healthcare, as well as the creative economy, ”Holness said at the meeting in a brief summit presentation.
“With regard to financing for development, debt sustainability and climate change, our cooperation within the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), the Commonwealth, the United Nations and of the World Trade Organization (WTO) remains a solid basis for deepening integration between us. We must also use all available platforms to achieve meaningful results from COP26 [Climate Change Conference – Ed.],” he added.
The Jamaican Prime Minister stressed that the shared historical experiences between Africa and the Caribbean have been enriched by cultural, economic and political affinities.
“A potential untapped for centuries is within our respective grasp, as we not only develop national capacities, but we engage [in] opportunities for cooperation with each other, across continents and oceans. The challenges of the past year and a half have enhanced the opportunities and value of the Africa-CARICOM relationship, ”he noted.
He said most importantly, Jamaica and the Caribbean region benefit greatly from the African Union’s access to COVID-19 vaccines and other essential medical supplies, through the African Supplies Platform. Medicines, a non-profit initiative launched by the African Union as an immediate, integrated and practical response to the pandemic.
He, meanwhile, hailed the African Continental Free Trade Area as another initiative creating an environment conducive to the flow of investment and tourism.
Holness also noted that before the pandemic, Jamaica was happy to have exchanged visits with African leaders and had even planned other visits.
“Jamaica was also delighted to receive the first non-stop flight from Lagos last December. There are prospects for increased tourism and other exchanges between our regions, in order to improve economic benefits and strengthen people-to-people relationships. It would reduce geospatial and psychological separation, reclaim our historic ties and celebrate us as members of the African diaspora, ”he suggested.
He said the summit was the fulfillment of the vision of Marcus Garvey, Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere and other Pan-Africanists, “who spoke of the manifest potential and greatness to be achieved through unified commitment.” .
“Let us strive to realize their dreams, and ours, of unleashing the full potential of the African continent and the African diaspora in the CARICOM region,” he said.
The first CARICOM-Africa Summit was organized as a virtual event under the theme “Unity Across Continents and Oceans: Opportunities for Deepening Integration”.
Participants in the historic event included the Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community and the African Union, the Presidents of CARICOM and the African Union Commission, and the African Regional Economic Communities, the Secretaries General of CARICOM and OACPS, and the President of the Caribbean. Development Bank (CDB).
Kenyatta in his speech limited his remarks to two areas of mutual interest to the two regions – debt sustainability and climate change, and the role of institutions like the CBD in developing innovative approaches to finance the development.
He said debt sustainability has become a major concern for African Union and CARICOM countries, which are among the most indebted nations in the world.
He noted that the pandemic has exposed the region’s structural weaknesses and amplified the debt problem.
“In 2020, public debt reached 70% of gross domestic product (GDP) in Africa and 83% of GDP in CARICOM. Our regions face the unusual conundrum of struggling for debt sustainability, while seeking to generate adequate fiscal resources to build with resilience, ”Kenyatta added. ~ Observer from Jamaica ~