Dr Rowley is now in London to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting which lasts from 16th to 18th April.
Once again Foreign and CARICOM Affairs Minister Dennis Moses has let down his close friend Dr Rowley and by extension all of T&T and this is evident by comparing the London itineraries of both Dr Rowley and his Jamaican counterpart Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
According to the Gleaner, Prime Minister Holness while in London will hold discussions with British Prime Minister, Theresa May, at her office at 10 Downing Street, in addition to a private meeting with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. He will also hold bilateral discussions with Prince Charles.
Prime Minister Holness will also address a joint forum on the theme: “Towards a Common Future” and hold bilateral talks with Pravind Jugnauth, Prime Minister of Mauritius. Meetings have also been scheduled with prospective investors in the business, banking and professional industries in addition to one with the Jamaican diaspora in London and surrounding areas.
Immediately, prior to the CHOGM meeting in London, Prime Minister Holness attended the Summit of the Americas in Peru where he held bilateral talks with the President of Chile, Sebastian Pinera and met with US Vice President Mike Spence.
Acting US Secretary of State, John Sullivan, met Caribbean Heads of Government and Foreign Ministers of the Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and St Lucia on April 14 on the margins of the Summit of the Americas. Neither Rowley nor Moses were present.
In between the Summit of the Americas and CHOGM, Holness visited Brussels where he addressed a special session of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Committee of Ambassadors, met with Donald Tusk, President of the European Council and the Jamaican community in Brussels, Antwerp and Paris.
Dr Rowley’s visit outside of T&T pales by comparison.
Prime Minister Rowley was a no show at this year’s Summit of the Americas Meeting which T&T hosted in 2009. This year’s Summit discussed Venezuela’s future, important for us given that by arresting our fishermen in T&T waters, Venezuela’s naval forces effectively invaded our country. If Moses thinks this is inconsequential; imagine the consequences if our Coast Guard were to arrest an American in US waters?
Dr Rowley also left it to his Jamaican counterpart to discuss in Brussels the most important matter of EU and OECD blacklisting of our country.
According to “Minister of Everything” Stuart Young, Prime Minister Rowley will be “trying to fit in as many meetings as possible while he is in London.” He also meets with the diaspora, unnamed British security officials, and energy companies including Shell and BP.
It is clear that Dr Rowley’s itinerary lacks specificity and gravitas and appears hastily put together. In this day of digital technology you do not have to go to London to meet energy and security officials. You save these high level meetings for matters of the highest priority. Meetings that can only be done face to face.
At meeting such as CHOGM, opportunities are taken to interact informally with your peers – fellow PMs – on matters of utmost importance to us like EU and OECD blacklisting, access to concessionary loans to deal with climate change and economic diversification, identifying new markets and high level discussions with the UK business community especially in finance given our aim to become a regional financial centre.
We need to assess first-hand the impact of Brexit and begin the lobbying process to protect our national interests both in Brussels and in London. Jamaica appears to understand this. Clearly we don’t.
But all this is beyond hopeless Dennis Moses who heads a demoralized Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs lacking strategic direction and a capacity to apply a laser focus on our interests abroad.
Dr Rowley in his zeal to protect his friend Moses at all costs, sadly fails to understand that pride, bravado, personal friendships and “pavement” diplomacy are inconsistent with our ambitions; as the largest economy in CARICOM and as enunciated by both former PMs Patrick Manning and Kamla Persad Bissessar; to become the Singapore of the region.
MP for Naparima