By Chris Patterson
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – The ministry of foreign affairs and foreign trade continues to successfully promote Jamaica’s interests in trade negotiations and through trade policy development.
This was stated by minister, senator Kamina Johnson Smith, in her presentation in the State of the Nation Debate in the Senate, recently.
“Jamaica also continues to advocate within the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) for the most favourable treatment to be accorded to goods relevant to the country’s industries and trade,” the minister said. “As you may recall, this process was used to establish Jamaica to be the regional supplier of condensed milk, which was just secured this year, and we continue to encourage members of the private sector to [examine] the regional opportunities that exist and use the COTED process to support their expansion of exports within the region,” she added.
The minister welcomed the outreach spearheaded by minister of industry, investment and commerce, senator Aubyn Hill, of a trade delegation to Guyana, which explored avenues for economic trade cooperation and investments.
Senator Johnson Smith noted that these and other anticipated outreaches are expected to deepen Jamaica’s trade with CARICOM partners.
“Undoubtedly, action on this front will support the longstanding preferential trading relations which we enjoy with Canada and the United States, as well as through the Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU and the UK, the former of which is undergoing its second review, and the latter in respect of which we are working on institutional building,” she said.
Meanwhile, she noted that for the last couple of years, she served as ministerial coordinator of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) within the World Trade Organization (WTO), which has been a truly critical period.
With 79 member states, the OACPS is the second-largest international organisation and requires a great deal of delicacy and steadfastness to navigate and build cohesion.
“Members may recall that over the last several years, in particular, the WTO had come under severe criticism, among other things, for failing to arrive at decisions, and this was rolled into a general criticism of the multilateral system as failing to deliver,” Johnson Smith said.
She noted that heading into the ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization (MC12) in June of this year, delegates were also wary of the lack of progress on WTO reform and issues generally.
“Being fully aware of the challenges, I was honoured to be asked by director-general Okonjo-Iweala to facilitate the negotiations on WTO Reform. I am extremely proud that we reached agreement on the outcome,” the minister said.
“I was also further gratified that we also played a part, after many preparatory meetings and intense discussions, in the 12th Session of the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (MC12) coming to a successful conclusion, with an agreement on elements of the longstanding negotiations on fisheries subsidies, food security and other matters. The work has continued to build on these outcomes,” she added.