• JIS News

    Jamaica’s new envoy to the United States, Ambassador Anthony Johnson has pledged to use his tenure in Washington to “strengthen the historic ties of friendship and co-operation between Jamaica and the United States.”
    He also said he would work to facilitate greater access for Jamaican goods and services to the U.S. market, while seeking to ensure greater levels of American foreign investment in key sectors in the island.
    The Ambassador, who assumed his post in Washington in February, reiterated his commitment to vigorously represent Jamaica’s interests on the bi-lateral and multi-lateral levels, and to increase the country’s profile within the Inter-American system. Speaking to JIS News from his office in Washington, Ambassador Johnson said that his appointment afforded him unique opportunities as well as challenges. “The United States is Jamaica’s chief trading partner, the primary source of our imports and also the recipient of a lot of our exports. The challenge before us is to find ways to expand this relationship and co-operation, particularly on the economic front.
    We need to improve our balance of trade and to increase our exports in non-traditional areas with the U.S. and reposition our economy to take advantage of the tastes and preferences of an increasingly diverse global market, particularly as it relates to our service industries, which include tourism,” he said.
    Ambassador Johnson also stressed that Jamaica would increase its focus in high-growth and potentially lucrative areas, such as information technology. He further mentioned that efforts would be made to expand Jamaica’s share of the American market in the area of technology application services, as well as the outsourcing of customer service support for American enterprises.
    “We need to take advantage of some of our natural strengths that would serve to attract American firms to the Jamaican market. As an English-speaking country with close proximity to the United States, as well as a labour force which is largely attuned to American tastes and its culture, Jamaica is uniquely positioned to provide (a range of services) that are consistent with American standards,” he added. The ambassador explained that the affinity of Americans for Jamaican culture also provided important opportunities for increased investment in the country’s cultural products and provided great potential for the expansion of the country’s tourism industry, particularly in areas such as heritage tourism and the marketing of Jamaican music and its artistic talent.
    “We need to more effectively market our historical sites, such as Spanish Town, one of the oldest cities in the New World, as well as other important sites on our island’s north coast,” he said, adding that they all have compelling stories that would serve to intrigue both tourists interested in Jamaica’s historical past as well as traditional patrons.
    Mr. Johnson also mentioned that among his immediate priorities was the strengthening of Jamaica’s multilateral relationships with both hemispheric and global entities, such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), based in Washington, as well as with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and other international financial institutions (IFIs), including the World Bank.
    Turning to the Jamaican diaspora, the Ambassador said that his appointment afforded him an opportunity to work closely with Jamaicans residing in the U.S. who have increasingly supported Jamaica’s development agenda, particularly through the Jamaican Diaspora Foundation, which has forged an increasingly productive relationship with the Government of Jamaica since 2004.
    “The Jamaican diaspora in the United States has and will continue to be our natural partner in our development thrust,” he said. “We understand, of course, that their participation and their support of our development (initiatives) is a purely voluntary activity and we are therefore very grateful for their continued interest and for the very important role that the diaspora organizations continue to play in steering investment to Jamaica and in assisting so many charitable causes across the island,” the Ambassador said.
    Subsequent to the official presentation of his credentials to the President of the United States, George W. Bush, Ambassador Johnson will begin his representational duties in earnest with several scheduled meetings with U.S. government officials and congressional representatives.
    The Ambassador, who is also Jamaica’s Permanent Representative to the OAS, will present his credentials to the Secretary General, Dr. Jos

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