Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey P. Marks has lauded the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) for its support extended to Jamaica, since its inception in 1981.
Among the areas of support noted were the US$450,000.00 in grants for the Montego Bay Airport expansion project, and more recently, the grant of US$820,000.00 to assist the Government with the successful divestment of Air Jamaica.
Ambassador Marks underscored her government’s appreciation for the US agency’s vital collaboration when she met with the USDTA Director, Ms. Leocadia Zak on February 16 at the agency offices, in Arlington, Virginia. Ms Zak was accompanied by USTDA Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mr. Nathan Younge and Country Manager for Jamaica, Mr. Jacob Flewelling.
It was pointed out that the USTDA had provided assistance with financing a reverse trade mission for participants from the energy sector to observe waste-to-energy technology, and for the National Water Commission (NWC) to implement a waste water management system. The USTDA has also financed the participation of Air Traffic Controllers in a meeting in the USA.
Ms. Zak reiterated the purpose of the USTDA, which isto help companies create US jobs through the export of US goods and services for priority development projects in emerging economies. The USTDA links US businesses to export opportunities by funding project planning activities, pilot projects, and reverse trade missions, while creating sustainable infrastructure and economic growth in partner countries.
The USTDA Director said she was pleased with the success of Air Jamaica’s divestment and the progress of the NWC project.
Ambassador Marks noted the difference which the upgrade of the Montego Bay Airport, the development of the road network and the water and sewerage systems had made to the increased investment opportunities in the western region of Jamaica. She pointed out that in the last 10 years, this has led to an addition of 5,000 hotel rooms and the attendant job creation, and most recently, the building of a Convention Centre to complement the improved tourism product.
The Ambassador informed the USTDA officials that the focus is now on the redevelopment of the capital city of Kingston, to replicate the investment opportunities being seen in western Jamaica.
She argued that this project would present an opportunity for US developers, investors and businesses which have the requisite expertise and experience, and she was interested in exploring appropriate ways of deepening the collaboration between Jamaica and the USTDA in this project planning stage.
The Ambassador also provided an overview of the macro-economic development in Jamaica, including the debt management strategy and declining interest rates that will stimulate access to capital for businesses.
Mr. Younge commended the work of the Government on the projects done to date. He noted that the USTDA had four major areas of focus – transportation, environment, information and communications technology, and renewable energy – in particular, waste-to-energy technology. While noting that the complete redevelopment plan was beyond the present scope of the USTDA, he expressed interest in examining specific projects under the redevelopment plan.
Ambassador Marks cited the Government’s special interest in working with the USTDA on Energy and the Environment.
Ms. Zak noted their interest in both project areas, plus continuing work on the water and sewerage projects for downtown Kingston. She also indicated that the USTDA could leverage funds from international financial institutions, US agencies and other sources to finance feasibility studies and trade missions to promote linkages between interests in the US and Jamaica in these specific areas.
In support of the various projects, it was agreed that the Embassy would provide information to the USTDA on the redevelopment plan in order to facilitate the identification of areas that they may have an interest in pursuing with Jamaica. The two parties also agreed to share information on projects that have been undertaken in Jamaica.
CONTACT: DERRICK A SCOTT
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