Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has described the visit by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, as “highly successful”, with agreement being reached on a number of initiatives, including shared diplomatic representation and plans to sign double taxation and multilateral agreements.
Ms. Mottley made the announcements today, as she chaired a press conference along with President Kenyatta, CARICOM Chairman and Prime Minister of St. Lucia, Allen Chastanet, and CARICOM Secretary General, Ambassador Irwin La Rocque, in the presence of regional ministers, following a CARICOM/Kenya meeting at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
She told the media that Barbados hoped to sign a double taxation and a bilateral investment treaty with the Government of Kenya, noting that there were also plans for a multilateral air services agreement that would facilitate “the opening of the skies”.
The Prime Minister said that officials would soon start finalizing aspects of the agreements so that they could be exchanged within the next weeks, and signed in September at the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Nairobi meeting in December.
In addition, Ms. Mottley stated that the Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya and representatives of the Kenyan Revenue Authority would be coming to Barbados from September 2 to 3, “ to ensure that we can move on those matters pertaining to the double taxation agreement, the issue of digital currency and whether we can work towards the creation of a common regulatory sandbox to be able to look at how we manage and regulate all of the new developments within the ICT sector, with respect to currency and bitcoin and crypto currency that our youngsters are developing at a rapid rate”.
The Prime Minister announced that as a way of fostering greater collaboration, the Government of Kenya has agreed to develop two acres of the National Botanical gardens, not only “as a way to show tolerance among our people, but to show the beauty of our environment and the world that we live in”.
In further describing the significance of the historic visit, Ms. Mottley added: “Our engagement with his excellency, Uhuru Kenyatta, has allowed us to find a leader whose development perspective is the same as ours, and that is half the battle. It also has allowed us to be able to work with each other to recognize that we are members of a neighbourhood [and] that if those neighbourhoods are opened up
will add significant value to our development options and to the investment opportunities and to jobs and to the social improvement of our peoples, and that in a very real sense we can complement each other.”
In further examining the CARICOM/Kenya perspective, she said that they would also be looking at creating partnerships in the area of tourism, since they both attracted the same “high-end” visitors.
“The same high-end visitor that we get coming to our beaches, is the same high-end visitor that they get going to their safaris. And there is absolutely no reason why we should not be engaged in a joint partnership because at the end of the day we are in the business of tourism, and we are in the business of recognizing that for some people they want variety, and why not help them choose that variety,” she opined.
In his remarks, President Kenyatta thanked the Government and people of Barbados for their warm hospitality and for facilitating the historic meeting, noting that the region and Africa both shared a common history.
He said that there was scope to build and deepen south-south cooperation, forge stronger links between Africa and the Caribbean, while confronting similar challenges.
He told the CARICOM meeting that if African nations and the region were to shape the evolving trends, then there needed to be more decisions at the leadership level to rebuild “our global African families”, so as to achieve socio-economic development.
President Kenyatta promised to work towards concluding an air services agreement so as to create “a bridge” between Africa and the Caribbean, and he invited CARICOM leaders to establish embassies in his country, saying that space would be made available for them in Nairobi. CARICOM Chairman and Prime Minister of St. Lucia, Allen Chastanet, offered his congratulations on the agreements and the initiatives between the region and Kenya, noting that CARICOM wanted a greater level of collaboration, not only in terms of trade, but in culture and tourism, stating that it was time for the Caribbean and Africa to take a more proactive role in this new world order.