Consul for Jamaica Mr Wade Lyn, CBE was delighted to host Jamaica’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Hon. Arnaldo Brown M.P. on his second visit to Birmingham. His visit was primarily to launch the Diaspora Mapping project as well as strengthening trade ties between Birmingham and Jamaica. Hon. Brown addressed Birmingham businesses and community members on Monday 16th June 2014.
Hon. Brown explained that “A comprehensive database of Jamaicans in the Diaspora is a necessary developmental tool, since it will assist the Government in locating Jamaicans in the Diaspora who possess certain skill sets associated with our critical development projects that we may currently not have in sufficient supply.”
The Jamaican Diaspora is estimated to be in excess of three million globally, approximately 650,000 in the United Kingdom and approximately 15,100 in Birmingham.
The Mapping Project hopes to get as accurate a picture as possible of Jamaicans across the globe. The Diaspora is therefore encouraged to participate in the survey by logging on to: www.mapjadiaspora.iom.int
Minister Brown also went on to give a most interesting talk about Jamaica’s economy, stressing that Commonwealth Countries needed to do more to counter negative perceptions by telling the world of the opportunities that exist in their countries, particularly for SME Companies.
Jamaica’s economic growth is running at 1.8% with 20 % of that growth coming from Agriculture. Tourism plays a big part in the country’s economy and has been down of late, mainly due to a slowdown in the USA/UK customer. Most of the hotels on the northern coast are Spanish owned.
Normally, the country caters for some 2 million tourists although it has capacity to cater for 6 million. Considerable sums have been spent on new or improved highways to cater for the tourist trade both to reduce travel time and improve the quality of travel. He acknowledged that local roads still needed investment and that a loan of $350,000,000 has been secured to invest in these over a period of time.
The IMF has provided some finance in return for an agreed programme. The Country has passed all bench marks so far. EU funding is also available for Sugar Cane production and there is an opportunity for the Country to export to the EU.
Commercial Internal interest rates are currently running at between 4-8%
Russia, China and Japan are some of the countries investing in Jamaica. Russia in mining (Jamaica has some of the best limestone in the world).
Jamaica is hoping to benefit from the expansion of the Panama Canal with Kingston becoming more of a logistical hub, being the 7th largest port in the world.