Increasing trade, tourism, workforce development and job creation topped the agenda in talks between the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell, and Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey P. Marks, at the Governor’s office in the state capital, Richmond, on Tuesday (March 8).
Governor McDonnell expressed interest in the Commonwealth of Virginia and Jamaica working more closely to strengthen their relations.
Jamaica ranked fifth among countries receiving Virginia’s exports, the Governor noted, citing that merchandise valued at some US$50,000 was exported to the island in 2009, while goods exported from Jamaica to Virginia were miniscule in value. To correct this imbalance, the Governor said every effort would be made to increase exports from Jamaica to Virginia, to ensure a strong trading relationship.
The Governor informed Ambassador Marks that his Secretary of Commerce and Trade, James Cheng, would work with the Embassy of Jamaica to begin the process of strengthening the trade relationship.
“I look forward to continuing to find areas in which we can work together to bring jobs and opportunities to the people of Virginia and Jamaica,” Governor McDonnell said.
Ambassador Marks said she did not foresee any obstacles to increasing trade between Jamaica and Virginia, as strengthening this partnership would yield positive economic benefits, for both sides.
The Ambassador assured Governor McDonnell that the Embassy, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, and Jamaica’s Exporters Association (JEA) would seek to commence the process as soon as possible. She added that more effort would also be made to involve the business community and seek to get Virginia-based members of the Jamaican Diaspora to become more interested in supporting Jamaican products.
The Ambassador provided an overview of the macro-economic developments, including the debt management strategy and declining interest rates that will stimulate access to capital for businesses. She saidtold the Governor that one of her primary missions, as Ambassador to the United States, is to secure greater levels of investment, as well as to increase trade and business opportunities between the US and Jamaica.
Attending the meeting were Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Emily Barrett; Secretary of State of the Commonwealth, Janet Polarek; Secretary of Commerce and Trade, James Cheng; and Susan Smith-Feaster
While on a one-day visit to Richmond, the Ambassador also held talks with the President of the Virginia Manufacturers Association, Brett Vassey.