Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith (left), listens to a point being made by Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation in Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, during the Third Jamaica/EU Political Dialogue held recently at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices. Photo: Dave Reid
By Douglas McIntosh
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- The government of Jamaica is examining ways to utilise more effectively the CARIFORUM-European Union (EU) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) to strengthen Jamaica’s trade relations with the 27-member EU.
This is against the background of significant developments, notably the pending departure of the United Kingdom, Jamaica’s largest trading partner in that bloc, said foreign affairs and foreign trade minister, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith.
She was speaking during the Third Jamaica/EU Political Dialogue held recently at the ministry’s New Kingston offices.
The EPA, between the EU and the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM), which is the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, took effect in 2009. It replaces the trade provisions of the Cotonou Agreement signed in 2000 and is intended to provide improved long-term market access for CARIFORUM countries into the EU on a reciprocal basis. It also has provisions for cooperation and development support for the Caribbean.
Johnson Smith noted that Jamaica has established a Commission to review and examine relationships within CARICOM and the CARIFORUM structure, and the report is expected to be presented shortly.
She said Jamaica is also reviewing an EU communiqué issued late last year, focusing on the development consensus and future relations with the ACP group of countries.
“These signal the direction in which the European Union wants to go and we want to note, in particular, that we appreciate the fundamental tenets of people, peace and prosperity …which we view as very much aligned with Jamaica’s national agenda (incorporated in) Vision 2030,” she added.
Johnson Smith said that Jamaica remains committed to strengthening relations with the EU “even as we continue to preserve and deepen our relationship with our historically close United Kingdom partner.”
“The partnership between the ACP and the EU and, by extension, Jamaica and the EU, has remained strong for many years. The EU has made a tremendous contribution to Jamaica’s development and that of the Caribbean and wider ACP, as the largest donor of grant funding,” she pointed out.
Johnson Smith conveyed the government and people of Jamaica’s gratitude to the EU for the development support which she noted “has been consistent…over the years.”
“We must now examine ways in which we can strengthen the collaboration to build an even more effective partnership for growth and development,” she said.
For her part, head of the EU Delegation in Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, expressed the hope that the dialogue, which was last held in 2014, will become an annual discourse.
“The fact that we are having this dialogue within the first year of this (government term is) a great sign of the commitment and very good relationship that we have with this administration,” she said.
The one-day political dialogue entailed discussions on several key global issues. These included: matters related to highly indebted middle-income countries; crime and security; human rights; the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); de-risking and correspondent banking; tax issues; environment; and climate change.