India-Jamaica Bilateral Relations
India-Jamaica Bilateral Relations
India and Jamaica have traditionally enjoyed cordial and friendly relations based on common linkages of history, Parliamentary democracy membership of the Commonwealth, English language and the love of cricket. There also exists a cultural heritage bond as Indian nationals were brought to this region as indentured labour between 1845-1917. Both India and Jamaica are members of NAM, G-77, G-15, WTO, WIPO, UN and its various subsidiary bodies. Both being developing countries, share similar concerns and common aspirations for their accelerated economic growth, eradication of poverty, improvement in the quality of life of their people and promotion of equity. Both also have shared stakes in shaping the emerging architecture of various multilateral institutions to address the existing inequities and for addressing major contemporary issues related to energy security, food security, climate change and international terrorism, among others. Both have common interests in promotion of South-South Cooperation and synergizing efforts towards the common objective of securing a better deal for the developing world in the relevant multilateral fora to promote the development imperatives of the South without impacting on their policy space.
Late Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi visited Kingston in 1975, following which the decision to open a resident Indian Mission in Jamaica was taken. Jamaica’s Prime Minister Mr. Edward Seaga visited India to attend the Seventh NAM Conference in March 1983. Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Jamaica in February 1999 to attend the Ninth G-15 Summit in Montego Bay. The Jamaican Minister of Foreign Trade, Mr. Anthony Hylton paid a visit to India from 1-4 August, 2001. A delegation led by Dr. Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Technology of Jamaica visited India from 16-20 October, 2001. Shri Digvijay Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs paid an official visit to Jamaica from 6-7 February, 2003. Other Ministerial visits were of Mr. Wykeham McNeille, Minister of State for Tourism and Culture to India in January 2007 for participation in centenary celebrations of Satyagraha, Shri Anand Sharma, MOS for External Affairs to Jamaica in February 2007, and Shri Vayalar Ravi, Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs to Jamaica in June 2007. Our Prime Minister had a brief meeting with the former Prime Minister Mr. Orette Bruce Golding of Jamaica on the sidelines of the UNGA on 25 Sept 2008 in New York.
In June 2013, Shri Vayalar Ravi, Hon’ble Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, again visited Jamaica on an invitation from the Government of Jamaica to participate in the ‘Fifth Biennial Diaspora Conference’ held from 16-19 June’13 at Montego Bay, Jamaica.
In February 2014, a delegation led by Hon. Anthony Hylton, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce of Jamaica, visited India to attend the NASSCOM India Leadership Forum 2014, held in Mumbai from 12-14 February 2014.
A 3-member Indian delegation, led by MOS(VKS), visited Kingston on 17-19 February, 2015 and had meetings with the Jamaican Foreign Minister as well as the Prime Minister. Several senior Cabinet Ministers participated in the discussions held by MOS(VKS) with the Jamaican Prime Minister. Both sides stressed the need of diversification in their ties, particularly expansion of business ties. The Indian side offered Jamaica a concessional LOC of US$15 million, whereas Jamaican side sought grants from India for the construction of a Sports Complex in Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller’s constituency and a hospital in the Western Jamaica. The Jamaican Prime Minister stressed the need of developing a strategic partnership between the two countries.
Four rounds of Foreign Office Level Consultations have been held so far. Three in Kingston in 2001, 2005, 2011 and one in New Delhi in 2007. During the Fourth round of the FOC in Kingston, it was agreed to explore the possibilities of cooperation in Agriculture, Sports, development of Small Scale Industries in Jamaica; conclusion of bilateral agreements on protection and promotion of investments; and avoidance of double taxation. It was also agreed to facilitate and encourage conclusion of MOUs between the National Small Industries Corporation of India and Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC); and between the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (FICCI) and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC). It was also agreed to have a re-look at the drafts already exchanged earlier on an Extradition Treaty; and Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance.
Economic and Commercial
Of late, the bilateral economic and commercial interaction between India and Jamaica has been constrained by small size of the economy, distance from India and preferential trade arrangements with the USA, EU and the Caribbean. Some of the highlights of India’s economic and commercial interaction with Jamaica are as follows:
Ø A Line of Credit (LOC) worth US$ 7.5 million was extended by India for import of water pumps from India (M/s Kirloskar Brothers Ltd) in the year 2001.
Ø India set up an IT Centre under the ICT Capacity Development Project in Jamaica in February 2009 following the assurance given by the then MOS (AS) in 2007. Under the agreement, India had provided the entire hardware, software, training modules and faculty of 3 deputed by the NIIT for a period of two years, which trained over a thousand Jamaicans in various modules of IT Skills. The programme came to an end in February 2011. The concluding ceremony was held on the 17 March 2011 and was addressed by the then Minister of Information Daryl Vaz, and the then Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Ms. Marlene Malahoo Forte, High Commissioner and various senior officials.
Ø An assistance of US$ 200,000 in the form of medicines and medical supplies for the victims of Hurricane Ivan that struck the Island in September 2004, was given by India.
Ø Government of India donated an amount of US$300,000/- (US Dollars Three Lakh) in the month of August 2010, as humanitarian assistance for procurement of medicines and medical equipments for the Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston.
Ø As a part of Indian Humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Nicole which lashed Jamaica in September–October 2010, the Government of India donated an amount of amount of US$50,000/- (US Dollars Fifty Thousand only) in the month of December 2010 to the Government of Jamaica.
Ø India offers 15 slots annually to Jamaica under the ITEC programme. So far, around 280 Jamaicans have been trained in various institutions in India.
Ø During the 3rd International Civil Aviation negotiations Conference organised by IATA in Montego Bay in June-July 2010, India and Jamaica initiated discussion on an Agreement of Cooperation in Civil Aviation.
Ø An MOU between the Scientific Research Council of Jamaica and the CSIR on cooperation in the field of Food Research and Technology was signed in January 2010 and is being operational.
Ø Following the fourth round of Foreign Office Level Consultations in July 2011, in Kingston, an MOU between The National Small Industries Corporation Ltd India (NSIC) and The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) was signed in Kingston on the 28th February 2012.
Ø India and Jamaica have agreed in principle to enter into an Agreement for The Exchange of Information and Assistance in Collection with respect to Taxes (AEI&ACT). India has proposed a Draft Agreement and is awaiting the response of the Jamaican side to the proposed draft.
Ø The Central Bank of India, agreed to work jointly with the Commonwealth Secretariat in the capacity building process of the Small Scale Business Association of Jamaica.
Ø India was elected as President of International Seabed Authority for the year 2010-2011 during the 16th session of the International Seabed Authority (ISBA), held in Kingston (Jamaica) from 26 April to 7 May 2010.
Ø The Government of India is also considering setting up a Vocational Training Centre(VTC) in Jamaica. The VTC will help in training Jamaican youth with professional skills leading to employment. In this connection two experts from HMT (Intl) Ltd. visited Kingston from 4-10 May 2014 for field study. They have already submitted their report to the concerned authorities for setting up of the Vocational Centre.
Ø A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on 31st March 2014 between the Government of India and Government of Jamaica for providing Indian grant assistance of US$ 2.1 million for installation of flood lights at the Sabina Park. A cheque of US$ 0.770 million as the first installation in this regard was given to the Government of Jamaica. On 10th July the cheque for the balance amount of US$ 1.33 million was handed over to the Government of Jamaica.
Major Items of India‘s exports to Jamaica are motor parts, mineral fuels, mineral oils, textiles, cotton, readymade garments, industrial machinery, plastic and linoleum products, pearls, precious and semi-precious stones, artificial jewellery, and pharmaceuticals products.
Indian imports from Jamaica mainly consist of beverages, organic chemicals, steel scrap and other miscellaneous products.
In 2014-15, exports from India to Jamaica were US$ 37.80 million, imports to India from Jamaica were US$ 1.78 million, making the total trade US$ 39.58 and the trade balance was US$ 36.02 million.
(A significant portion of Jamaican imports of products of Indian origin takes place from the US, Canada and the UK. On account of small volumes as well as existing trade networking in these countries, it is not reflected in the above statistics.)
Institutional Cultural interaction is virtually non-existent. The lack of enthusiasm and support for promotion of Indian cultural activities by the Indian Diaspora business community has restricted the Mission’s ability to meet the local hospitality requirement for inviting ICCR cultural troupes on regular basis. Consequently the Mission has to harness the local talent and the limited resources to promote Indian culture by organizing various cultural programmes, symposia and seminars on important occasions.
The Government of Jamaica have recently appointed Mr. Prakash Vaswani, Special Envoy of Jamaica to India and they have also nominated H.E. Mr. Clement Phillip Allicock as High Commissioner of Jamaica resident in Tokyo who has presented his Credentials in October, 2014.
A 25-member Indian Cricket Team led by Capt. M.S. Dhoni played two ODI matches in Kingston in June 2009. Again in 2011, as a part of their itinerary for the Caribbean region, the Indian Cricket Team played one ODI and one Test match in June 2011 in Kingston (Jamaica). The Indian Cricket Team, led by M.S. Dhoni, visited Jamaica to participate in the Tri Nation series, involving India, West Indies and Sri Lanka. They played against West Indies on 30th June and against Sri Lanka on 2nd July 2013 at Sabina Park, Kingston.
The Indian Diaspora, of about 70,000 whose forefathers came from India (mainly from Eastern UP, Bihar, Basti, Deoria, Gorakhpur) as indentured labour from 1845-1917, constituting around 3% of the Jamaican population, are proud of their Indian origin and have retained and nurtured their abiding interest in Indian culture, music, dance and history. They have assimilated well in the Jamaican society – fondly described as ‘genetically embedded and integrated in the Jamaican society’, by the former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Dr. Kenneth Baugh – and their contribution to the Jamaican economic and social development has been acknowledged and appreciated at the highest political level in Jamaica.
High Commission of India
India-The Bahamas Bilateral Relations
The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is under HCI, Kingston’s concurrent accreditation since August 2004. Both countries have convergence of views on various important contemporary issues, shared concerns, aspirations, and excellent cooperation at various multilateral fora.
As members of NAM, G-77, WIPO, WTO (Observer), the United Nations, and its various subsidiary bodies, the two countries have shared stakes in shaping the emerging architecture of various multilateral institutions to address the existing inequities, and for addressing major contemporary issues related to energy security, food security, climate change, and international terrorism, among others. The Bahamas has consistently supported Indian candidatures, unilaterally or reciprocally, to various UN and other International bodies. Bahamas is sensitive to India’s concerns on International Terrorism and supports comprehensive convention on International Terrorism proposed by India. The Bahamas supported Indian candidature for a Non-Permanent Seat on the UN Security Council for the year 2011-12, and also supports our aspirations for Permanent Membership of the expanded Security Council as and when it takes place. The Bahamas position is largely in sync with our position in various trade developments and other global issues. Bahamas is not only sensitive and supportive of our aspirations to play a commensurate global role, including in the UN Security Council, but also expects India to play a much larger role in Bahamas, and the Caribbean. Being members of the Commonwealth, various meetings under its auspices such as CHOGM, CPA, etc. have provided opportunities for bilateral meetings on the sidelines.
In October 1985, Late Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi visited Nassau for the CHOGM in The Bahamas. Exchange of visits include visit of Secretary(West) in September 2005 to The Bahamas for the Foreign Office Consultations; visit of The Bahamas Minister of Foreign Affairs and Public Service Frederick Mitchell, along with a business delegation in January 2006 to India; and visit of MOS (PMO) Shri Prithviraj Chauhan to The Bahamas on 23-26 May 2006 for participation in the Commonwealth Youth Ministers’ Conference. (Frederick Mitchell accompanied wife of then Prime Minister Perry Christie of the Progressive Liberal Party, on her private visit to India in March 2006.) Former Prime Minister Hubert A. Ingraham of The Bahamas had a meeting with our Prime Minister on the sidelines of the last CHOGM meeting in Kampala in November 2007 and sought cooperation in solar energy, technical and vocational education, Specialists’ Teachers, and IT-assistance. In February, 2015 JS(LAC) and the High Commissioner visited Nassau and had meetings with the Bahamian Foreign Minister in connection with the Preparatory Caricom Meeting. In June, 2015 Indian HRD Minister Smt.Smiriti Irani led her delegation to the Bahamas to participate in the 19th Commonwealth Conference of Education Ministers in Nassau.
The Bahamas is not a member of the IPU and the Parliamentary exchanges/ interactions at the CPA level being limited; there is a deficit of bilateral Parliamentary exchanges.
The Bahamas has appointed an Honorary Consul (Shri Ashish Saraf) in India in October 2006.
The Bahamas has now appointed their Non-resident High Commissioner, Mr.Jason Lowel Mortimer.
India has offered to set up an IT Centre in the Bahamas. Modalities are being worked out, and the MOU is presently in a draft stage, with the Ministry (TC Division). The MOU envisages provision of hardware, software, courseware, and a training faculty of 3 for a period of 2 years, which would train about 600 Bahamians each year.
India has also made an offer to the Bahamas assistance and cooperation in the solar energy sector. The Government of India has allocated fund for the project and has sought from the Bahamian Government signal to implement the project.
India also signed the Bilateral Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) on 11 February 2011 and it has since entered into force.
India has also been providing humanitarian assistance to the Bahamas in the aftermath of devastation caused by natural calamities. An amount of US$ 50,000 as a relief in the form of contribution of medicines was provided in September 2004 to alleviate the sufferings of the Bahamian people caused by the Hurricane Ivan.
India’s offer of ten ITEC slots are also being increasingly utilized by the Bahamian youth.
Trade & Economic Relations
Economic content is conspicuously inadequate, high level exchanges are far from satisfactory, and a huge deficit of parliamentary and cultural exchanges are important features of our bilateral relations.
During the visit of The Bahamas Minister for Foreign Affairs to India in January 2006, two agreements - an omnibus ‘Agreement on Bilateral Cooperation’ between the two Governments and an ‘Agreement on the Establishment of Joint Business Council between FICCI and The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce’ were signed. Bilateral trade between India and Bahamas has been fluctuating depending upon import and export of a particular item in a particular year. IT products/services, pharmaceuticals, manufactured goods and auto parts are the major areas of India’s export interests.
Small size of Indian community, small size of the market and lack of direct connectivity with India has gravitated the local business community in the Bahamas to import products of Indian origin through their network in the US/UK because of close proximity and economical and efficient shipping arrangements. The Bahamian economy’s contraction in the aftermath of recent global financial crisis, which, among others, slowed down the in-flow of tourism into the Bahamas also impacted on the volume of bilateral trade. The State Bank of India and the Bank of Baroda have their resident branches in the capital Nassau for offshore banking. Both have been doing brisk business and operating as profit centers for their respective parent organizations.
Cultural Relations and Indian community
Relations between India and The Bahamas have traditionally been friendly and cordial, reinforced by a small Diaspora of 500 approx. comprising mostly professionals, who have integrated in the Bahamian mainstream and distinguished themselves.
In the absence of any Cultural Exchange Agreement the cultural interaction is rather limited. There is neither any Bahamian student studying in India nor any Indian student in the Bahamas.
High Commission of India
India- Cayman Islands Bilateral Relations
The Cayman Islands, a group of three islands (Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman) in the north-west Caribbean Sea, about 150 miles south of Cuba, 460 miles south of Miami, Florida, and 167 miles northwest of Jamaica (land area 264 sq. km., population 54,000, GDP US$2.8 bn.) is an English speaking UK Overseas Territory. Cayman Island is one of the world's largest financial centres and a well-known tax haven. UK Government seems amenable to allow autonomy to the Cayman Islands on certain aspects of its external affairs – on relations with CARICOM, Caribbean regional organizations, and other UK/Netherlands/French Overseas Territories/Dependencies in the Caribbean region, subject to prior intimation/approval of the Governor/UK Government. The conduct of foreign relations is controlled by the British Foreign Office. It is an associate member of CARICOM and UNESCO, and a member of Caribbean Development Bank, Universal Postal Union, and Interpol. It is not a member of the United Nations or any other international organization.
Though the Cayman Islands has neither participated in various International fora nor articulated its position on climate change, it has serious stakes in the on-going international discussions, inter-alia, on account of rising sea levels, warming of the oceans, coastal erosion, degradation of the marine environment, declining of fish stocks and increased frequency and intensity of storms and hurricanes, which threaten not only the sustainable development and fragile infrastructure but also the very existence of small island developing countries.
As a UK Overseas Territory the Cayman Islands has not articulated its position on reforms of the UNSC or our candidature for the non-permanent seat.
It has no resident diplomatic representations from other countries. High Commissioner of India to Jamaica is concurrently accredited to the Cayman Islands.
Bilateral relations between India and the Cayman Islands have been friendly. There have been no high level exchanges and no bilateral agreements. William McKeeva Bush, former Premier of the Cayman Islands, accompanied by Mark Scotland, Minister for Health, Environment, Youth, Sports & Culture; Canover Watson, Chairman of the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority accompanied by four officials visited Banglore from 15-17 December 2009 at the invitation of the Chairman of the Narayana Hridayalaya, for inauguration of a 1400-bed Cancer Hospital set up by Narayana Hridayalaya Hospital.
Our offer of 2 slots every year under the ITEC/SCAAP is not being utilized.
As the external relations of the Cayman Islands are conducted by the British Foreign Office, our major thrust has been to explore opportunities for strengthening economic interaction, disseminate information on India as part of our outreach efforts, provide consular services to the Indian community and the local population, and to assist the Indian community in relief and rescue efforts in case of natural calamities, as the territory is prone to periodic hurricanes and storms.
Though Cayman Islands is a tax haven and an International financial centre and remains the domicile of choice for Hedge Funds, our interaction with her has been rather limited.
A three member delegation, from the Ministry of Finance (Dept of Revenue) attended the meeting of the “Peer Review Group of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes” from 18-23 July 2010 in The Bahamas. On the margins of the meeting, India and the Cayman Islands initialled a draft agreement on “Tax Information Exchange Agreement”. Subsequently, India and Cayman Islands signed the Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) on the 21 March 2011.
There was a proposal for Foreign Direct Investment by NCBG Holding Inc., incorporated in the Cayman Islands, owned by US Citizens, to acquire 26% of shares in a proposed joint venture company to be set up in India with Indian partners, who will hold 74% equity in the joint venture Company. The company is engaged in manufacturing of wiring sets used in Vehicles, Aircraft, Ship and other machinery for Defence industry.
An agreement was signed by Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospital, Bangalore, with the Government of the Cayman Islands to build a health city in the capital Grand Cayman, in a joint venture to build a multi super-specialty hospital of 2,000 beds by 2012 and a world class medical university in the Caymans to train doctors, nurses and paramedical students from America, Canada, South America and the Caribbean region. The hospital has been operational since 25th February 2014.
Our bilateral trade is insignificant.
Culture and Indian Community
Indian community of about 800, representing around 1.6% of the total population and 3% of the expatriate community, are mainly on work permits and largely employed in the hotel, hospitality and the security related organizations. There are a handful of Indian doctors, chartered accountants, and other professionals.
High Commission of India
India - Turks and Caicos Islands Bilateral Relations
Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), comprising two island groups in the North Atlantic Ocean, (area 430 sq. km., population 47,000, GDP US$823 mn.), is a UK Overseas Territory.
In 2009, the British government had imposed direct rule over the islands after an inquiry discovered evidence of corruption and incompetence in the islands' government. Consequent to the imposition of direct rule by the UK Government in August 2009, the then Governor Gordon Wetherell, assumed full responsibility for running the Turks and Caicos Islands. Even in the normal course, the UK appointed Governor wields vast executive authority, as a member of the TCI Cabinet, and after suspension of the Constitution he became the sole repository of the entire executive and legislative authority, as the Cabinet stood dissolved. In October 2013, Mr. Peter Beckingham was appointed Governor of Turks and Caicos Islands. TCI being a British Overseas Territory, the British Government is largely responsible for its external relations and defence matters, though TCI maintains diplomatic relations with its neighbours and the US.
General elections were held in Turks and Caicos Islands in November 2012. The Progressive National Party (PNP) won the election, winning eight seats with the PDM winning seven. The PNP won most of its seats by narrow margins over the PDM, while the PDM won its seats by wide margins over the PNP, with the result that despite winning fewer seats and thereby losing the election, the PDM garnered more overall votes nationwide. Dr. Rufus Ewing of the PNP was appointed Premier in the 21 seat unicameral legislature – House of Assembly.
TCI is neither a member of the United Nations, nor is represented on most International organizations. It is a member of the Caribbean Development Bank, Interpol, and the UPU and is an associate member of the CARICOM. It has no resident diplomatic representations from other countries. Though it has neither participated in various international fora nor articulated its position on climate change, it has serious stakes in the on-going International discussions, inter-alia, on account of rising sea levels, warming of the oceans, coastal erosion, degradation of the marine environment, declining of fish stocks, and increased frequency and intensity of storms and hurricanes, which threaten not only the sustainable development and fragile infrastructure but also the very existence of small island developing countries.
As the external relations of the Turks and Caicos Islands are conducted by the British Foreign Office, our major thrust has been to explore opportunities for strengthening economic interaction, disseminate information on India as part of our outreach efforts, provide consular services to the Indian community and the local population, and to assist the Indian community in rescue and relief efforts in case of natural calamities, as the territory is prone to periodic hurricanes and storms. Overall, our interaction is rather limited.
High Commissioner of India to Jamaica is concurrently accredited to the Turks and Caicos Islands. Bilateral relations between India and Turks and Caicos Islands have been friendly. There have been no high level exchanges and no bilateral agreements.
Our offer of 2 slots every year under the ITEC/SCAAP is not being utilised.
Because of the proximity and connectivity, the US is the largest trading partner and over 70% of tourism business originates from there.
Bilaterally, there are no major areas of convergence or divergence between India and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Our bilateral trade has been insignificant and investment almost non-existent.
Cultural Relations and Indian community
Indian community is vibrant, and accounts for a little over 3% of the population, and includes a few Sindhi business families who are well established in the field of retail jewellery and electronics business, a small number of doctors, nurses, teachers, chartered accountants, and other professionals are also there. A sizeable number of Indians are also employed in the Indian owned business establishments and the local hospitality industry.