Foreign and Diaspora Affairs Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua has called for the removal of trade barriers that restrict movement of goods and people amongst the Commonwealth member states.
Dr Mutua said the removal of restrictive visa regimes and other non-trade barriers would be vital in leveraging intra-Commonwealth trade.
In a press statement sent to newsrooms, the CS reaffirmed Kenya’s commitment to positive multilateralism, to the values and principles of the Commonwealth and to mutually beneficial partnerships that will safeguard and advance the welfare and wellbeing of citizenry in the member states.
“I am also calling for a review of the global financing system that would help in easing and better management of debt among Commonwealth Member States,” stated Dr Mutua.
The CS made the remarks yesterday during the 22nd Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting (CFAMM) held at the Commonwealth Headquarters, Marlborough House in London that was attended by ministers and representatives from across the Commonwealth, to discuss joint responses to shared challenges.
The Foreign Affairs Ministers’ Meeting is held annually to discuss matters of collective interest to the Commonwealth.
This year’s meeting focused on enhancing the resilience of Commonwealth countries in times of crisis and provided a platform for members to appraise each other on the challenges faced by their countries on the effects of climate change, Covid-19 pandemic and high food and energy costs that risk impacting peace and stability.
At the meeting, CS Mutua proposed various areas of concern where member States could work jointly together citing areas such as climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss, matters of regional peace and security and in particular, countering violent extremism, debt management, elections and national cohesion.
He commended Kenya for holding peaceful and fair elections as was validated by both regional and international election observer missions, and reiterated Kenya’s commitment to supporting African leadership in addressing climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss, as well as Kenya’s role in advancing a cleaner, greener and more sustainable environment.
The CS told the meeting that President William Ruto, is advocating for the planting of 15 billion trees by 2023, a move he said aims at increasing Kenya’s tree cover to 30 percent.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Dr Mutua held a bilateral meeting with the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom James Cleverly where they discussed issues of mutual interest and the need for peace and stability.
On regional peace and security, they both agreed to collaboratively explore ingenious pathways to end conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and South Sudan.
Mr Cleverly said UK appreciates and lauds Kenya’s commitment to improve peace, security and prosperity in Kenya and the region.
The Ministers also discussed on the ongoing projects and agreements signed at COP 27 in Egypt which they noted will enable trade and development programmes in the two countries to grow to higher heights.
On education, the Ministers agreed on increasing scholarships to Kenya from the current 40 Chevening and 20 Commonwealth scholarships.
“Doubling of the number of scholarships offered to Kenyans would be ideal,” Dr Mutua said and requested for a quota of additional 20,000 nurses to work in the UK.
“We request for 10,000 jobs for seasonal agricultural workers in the UK farm sector and support to access as many as 8,000 seasonal labour jobs in construction, hospitality and health in the Isles of Jersey and Guernsey,” he added.
By Bernadette Khaduli