Prime Minister Gaston Browne is currently engaged in talks with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to establish an embassy in Antigua and Barbuda that will serve the Eastern Caribbean states. Both leaders agreed to establish diplomatic representation between the two countries, and to execute a cooperation agreement to promote bilateral trade and investments.
The Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, Lionel Hurst, explained that, “it is not uncommon for African countries to place a single embassy in one place that has responsibilities for other countries within the hemisphere”. Hurst described the encounter as being one where Prime Minister Browne “made a pitch” to President Kenyatta for Antigua and Barbuda to “be the home for the Kenyan Embassy that would most likely serve other countries in the Eastern Caribbean”.
He also described the proposed arrangement as one that could be seen between nations like South Africa, which has a single embassy in Jamaica, or India which has a single embassy in Guyana. In both cases, the respective embassies serve the states in the greater Eastern Caribbean. The cooperation agreement between Antigua and Barbuda will also cover increased people to people exchanges; exchanges between The University of the West Indies Five Islands and The University of Nairobi; collaboration on common causes like climate change and reparations; and other issues affecting developing states.
The discussions, which will be formalised with the establishment of a formal cooperation agreement, will also include a double taxation treaty and an investor protection agreement. PM Browne was in Nairobi, Kenya, leading an Antigua and Barbuda delegation at the International Conference on Population & Development (ICPD25).
During a panel discussion on Wednesday, he spoke on the issue of climate justice and the connection between climate change and gender. At the opening held on 12th November, Browne confirmed his government’s unwavering commitment to empowering women and girls, and made the following pledges for zero maternal mortality; zero sexual and gender based violence; the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls; gender parity in the Lower House of Parliament and provided a general commitment to the ICPD’s 2030 Agenda.
Hurst said the conference was “very important for Antigua and Barbuda to be present and also provide the perspective of Small Island Developing States on the question of population control”. “Antigua and Barbuda,” he went on, “is an example of a small country that is more metropolitan than many others in that more people from more places live in Antigua than in many of the other countries within the Caribbean. So we pride ourselves on knowing that as far as population is concerned, we are the experts.”
Prime Minister Browne made yet another appeal to the international community to eliminate their per capita income criterion, and to provide small states with the necessary funding to assist with climate change mitigation and adaptation.