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London – The head of JAMPRO's United Kingdom and European office, Laurence Jones, has said that the Ministry of Agriculture in Jamaica and a Birmingham based shipper/distributor are in talks with a view towards establishing a significant distribution hub in Birmingham for Jamaican goods.

Mr. Jones told a Caribbean Trade Conference in Birmingham on Wednesday (October 10), that JAMPRO intends to leverage the exposure that Jamaican goods received during the 2012 Olympics with the staging of Jamaica House in London and Jamaica in the Square in Birmingham, to increase Jamaican exports to the Midlands.

Speaking about the trade and investment opportunities between Jamaica and Europe, Mr. Jones said that there are opportunities for Jamaica and the Caribbean to prosper by exporting goods and services to the European Union.

He added that Jamaican entrepreneurs could do more to take advantage of opportunities available to them in the EU, by working with JAMPRO.

"The CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement of 2008 offers a range of potential opportunities for the CARIFORUM Export Business Sector," said Mr. Jones, who is also the Commercial Attaché at the Jamaican High Commission in London.

He further added that: "With respect to trade in goods, the Agreement maintains duty free, quota free, access in the EU Market for originating CARIFORUM exports."

"The Agreement also provides access to the EU markets for a range of service sectors of importance to CARIFORUM such as professional services, management consulting, cultural industries, spa and related services, recreational and sport and so on," he explained.

Mr. Jones also felt that the EPA may encourage foreign direct investment into CARIFORUM countries from UK companies, and that some multinational corporations have also invested in light manufacturing and assembly in Jamaica, so that their goods may originate from Jamaica to benefit from tariff exemptions under trade agreements such as the Caribbean Basin Initiative with the United States.  

"I cannot stress enough the importance of the region taking full advantage of the resources that are currently available to assist with private sector development," Mr. Jones said.

"This is in light of the challenges that our European Partners are currently experiencing within the Eurozone and the potential changes that can arise as Europe rethinks its development policy with developing countries that are within and outside the ACP Grouping," he added.