Jamaican Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith was in Mexico last week, along with an 18-member delegation, to participate in the Eighth Binational Commission Meeting, a forum that takes place every two years in order to promote enhanced political consultations and bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
During the two-day meeting, which was presided over by Foreign Relations Secretary (SRE) Claudia Ruiz Massieu and which coincided with the 5oth anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations, Mexico and Jamaica signed an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion, as well as a memorandum of understanding on the creation of a Mexican chair at the University of the West Indies (UWI) that will include a Spanish language training program.
There was likewise a renewal of an existing bilateral accord between the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the UWI for academic exchange on research and development, social sciences, biotechnology and gender studies.
Also discussed during the meeting were issues of trade and investment; technical, scientific, cultural and sports cooperation; and collaboration on issues of agricultural, environmental and natural disasters.
During her stay in Mexico, Johnson Smith offered a magna conference at the Mateos Romero Institute of Diplomatic Studies in downtown Mexico City on bilateral relations in which she also spoke about two-way cooperation within the context of multilateral forums.
“These mechanisms have allowed us to promote, in tandem with our regional and hemispheric neighbors, collective solutions to the most pressing political, social, economic and environmental issues of our lives,” she said.
Johnson Smith also made reference to the rapprochement between the United States and Cuba and the broadening of the Panama Canal, both of which she said would significantly impact the developmental dynamics of the Caribbean.
“Based on these developments and other regional and global trends, the government of Jamaica is firmly of the view that the time is ripe to maximize the potential of the north and northwest Caribbean to constitute a geopolitical and economic pole that can become a catalyst for the further integration and sustainable development of the countries that belong to this space and serve as an engine of growth for the entire Caribbean Basin,” she said.
Johnson Smith said that Jamaica was grateful to Mexico for the friendship and support that it has extended to her island over the years, including a $1.8 million grant for the Riverton City Rehabilitation Project, the establishment of a paved access road to a landfill disposal site, due to be completed in September of this year.
Jamaica, which is the second-largest economy in the Caribbean Community (Caricom), is currently Mexico’s third-largest trade partner in that region, with a combined bilateral commercial exchange of $130 million in 2015.
Jamaica is also one of the most important Caribbean destinations for Mexican investment, with an accumulated total Mexican capital of $428 million, primarily in the areas of tourism, infrastructure and manufacturing.
Key among Mexican investors in Jamaica are Grupo Aeroportuario del Pácifico, which operated the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, the Monterrey-based cement transnational Cementos Mexicanos (Cemex) and A.M. Resorts.
Bilateral diplomatic ties were established in 1966, just four years after the island nation’s indepdence from Britain.