Jamaica Seeking To Strengthen EU Trade Ties

KINGSTON, 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.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.”

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.”