The keynote speech by First Minister Carwyn Jones was followed by reflections on Wales on the International Stage from Sir Emyr Jones Parry, former Permanent Representative to the United Nations, a personal take on immigration and integration from Mutale Merrill OBE, Chief Executive of BAWSO, a historical whistle-stop tour of the last 100 years in terms of from Julian Rosser, Director of Oxfam Cymru and an academical point of view on X from Fran Dickson, PhD Researcher at the Wales Governance Centre, Cardiff University.
Carwyn Jones defended sternly and openly what he put across as cost-effective modest spending on The Welsh Government's Wales for Africa programme as well as defending the foreign trade missions and other soft diplomacy.
Carwyn Jones perhaps neglected to touch upon the role of the Higher Education sector in Wales for boosting Wales' profile on the international scene as well as exporting its values, ideas and skills through international students as well as domestic graduates. This was, however, an issue raised by both Mrs Merrill and Mr Rosser in terms of a personal tale of being attracted to first post-graduate education and contributing to Wales.
We are part of a global village, need to embrace change, be welcoming and be adaptable
Carwyn Jones and Mutale Merrill reflected each other in terms of their calls for Wales to “embrace change and be adaptable”, but the First Minister omitted any explicit mention of being open and welcoming to the inflow of immigrants. He did stress the importance of “being open for business” to attract foreign direct investment.
Mutale Merrill actively called for more people to “to talk about the additional added value that migrant populations bring to Wales” possibly to counteract the potentially unbalanced, populist reporting of the contrary.
Julien Rosser also the audiences' attention away from taxpayers' money funding international development and positive impacts abroad by mentioning that “the biggest influence/impetus for international development in Wales comes from the diaspora in terms of remittances”.
Also, he alluded to the significant impact of Welsh Higher Education institutions on international relations, climate change, mitigation and adaptation agenda, and "the positive impact of foreign students in Wales and them learning about Welsh life and exporting that”.
Key quotes from Carwyn Jones
“Relationship with the EU was established very early on after devolution, and I am committed to remaining an active partner.” “He will oppose any such move to leave the EU - we would still be bound by EU regulations but not a role in being able to shape them.” “Union also provides opportunity to network with EU peers - opportunity to share best practise and identify opportunities where we can even work together to bring positive results.” “We invest in our cultural-arts sector, e.g. Womex.” “This is a section of our economy where we punch above our weight.” “Results of softer diplomacy not always visible but the dividends do pay off.”