JIS News

Jamaica and Brazil have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which will see both countries sharing resources and expertise in the diversification of sugar and the production of ethanol in the island.
Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, K.D. Knight said this would help offset the repercussions of a recent European Union (EU) decision to cut preferential price on sugar produced by African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.
He pointed out that this alternative form of energy would provide sugar cane producers with another avenue for income generation, and a better chance to cope in a more competitive market.
Minister Knight was speaking after the signing of the MOU, at a press conference, held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston yesterday (May 16).
“Brazil now wants to help us to be able to develop our sugar and sugar cane industry and that is why there is the investment in ethanol, which helps us in the process of diversification,” the Minister said.
He pointed out that Jamaica continues, through the ACP body, to lobby with the EU to delay implementation of the proposed price cut on sugar from ACP countries.
The EU had initially proposed a 37 per cent reduction over a three-year period, beginning with a 20 per cent cut on July 1 and another 17 per cent reduction applied over the next two years.
“We have been lobbying and negotiating to have that time period extended for the commencement in 2008, rather than to have the reduction be completed by then. It is too drastic, too fast and too sudden.” the Minister said, adding that “the slack is being taken up now in the diversification process and this is where Brazil is an active partner in that”.
In the meantime, Mr. Knight noted that an Ethanol plant would be reconstructed at the Petrojam refinery on Marcus Garvey Drive, and this should be operational by June.
Addressing the MOU, Brazilian Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim said the venture would see Brazil providing technical expertise and other support to Jamaica’s ethanol production capacity.
“We’ve brought here people who are involved in the alcohol production directly, and the production of equipment. We’ve brought people of the automobile industry, to speak about our own experience in using alcohol powered vehicles.We also brought people from the University, who are very much involved in the genetic improvement of sugar cane,” he said.
The MOU was among three agreements signed by the Foreign Ministers, the others being an agreement for Technical Co-operation in Agriculture, and a joint communique.
Talks between the two Ministers on May 16 brought to an end the two-day visit by the Brazilian Foreign Minister and his team.
During his stay, Mr. Amorim also had dialogue with Prime Minister P.J. Patterson; visited the University of the West Indies and Petrojam; and met with members of the Jamaican private sector.
Mr. Amorim’s visit to the island marked the first official visit by a Brazilian Foreign Minister.

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