Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Peter Phillips (left); in discussion with Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Jamaica, Paola Amadei, at a signing ceremony between Jamaica and the EU, for grant funding of $11.5 billion. The event took place at the Office of the Prime Minister on Europe Day celebrated around the world on May 9. JIS Photo
By Garfield L. Angus
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- Jamaica is to push even harder to further penetrate the European Union (EU) markets, as it seeks to take full advantage of economic advancements in that trading bloc.
“It (EU) represents a tremendous trading opportunity for Jamaica, which we hope to take increasing advantage of, as we complete our own economic reform agenda,” said minister of finance and planning, Dr Peter Phillips.
The minister was addressing a signing ceremony at the Office of the Prime Minister on May 6, when the EU committed some $11.5 billion (US$104 million) of grant funding to Jamaica.
The sum will be used for 17 projects and programmes in areas such as agriculture, security and justice, debt reduction, climate change and poverty reduction.
“We are looking forward increasingly, to participate in the advancement of the growth agenda, in the areas involving agriculture, manufacturing, and the support of tourism. There is considerable investment in Jamaica’s tourism product from European Union countries,” the minister noted.
The EU is the biggest trading bloc in the world, and it contributes the largest amount of grant funding to Jamaica. Over the almost four decades of friendship with the EU, Jamaica has received some €1 billion (US$1.37 billion), with over 80 percent being grant funding.
Phillips said the EU and Jamaica share a similar commitment to democracy, to sound market-based economies, protection of the most vulnerable, and for “creating democratic economic structures which are able to incorporate the majority of our people within productive networks of economic activity.”
The minister explained that Jamaica’s current economic adjustment programme has been challenging, and “our confidence in our ability to complete this programme is enhanced because of our friends like the European Union, and the continued support that they offer.”
Meanwhile, head of delegation of the EU to Jamaica, Paola Amadei, said the EU is a development partner, and urged Jamaicans “to think of our partnership, not just as between governments, but as a friendship between the citizens of the EU and the people of Jamaica; a friendship that is bearing fruit.”