LONDON – The Meet Jamaica 2012 Programme had its official United Kingdom (UK) launch at the Council House in Birmingham, on March 18.
This programme, which is private-public sector initiative, is seeking to increase trade in goods and services between Jamaica and the UK as well as with the wider European and world markets by capitalising on global attention that will come with the staging of the London Olympics in 2012.
The launch was attended by Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda; Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett; President of JAMPRO, Sancia Bennett Templer; Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Sandra Glasgow, and Leader of the Birmingham City Council, Mike Whitby.
The event was chaired by General Manager of Jamaica National, Earl Jarrett, the lead sponsor of the Meet Jamaica Programme. It was hosted by the Birmingham City Council. Birmingham will host the Jamaican Olympic team during its preparation for the London Olympics and has signed a Legacy agreement with Jamaica.
Minister Samuda, in commending Birmingham for its support, said the agreement is not a one way street, but is rather a “win, win” relationship.
“This is a partnership that will endure over time; a partnership that will be strengthened, a partnership based on mutual respect and an appreciation for free trade,” Mr Samuda said.
He pointed out that Jamaica wants to establish a working relationship that goes beyond athletics, to share skills, ideas and technology.
“This must be the beginning of the deepening of the integration between Birmingham and Jamaica,” the Minister said.
Minister Bartlett also commended Birmingham, and pointed out that the Ministry is committed to increasing the number of visitors from Birmingham and the Midland to Jamaica by 2012.
He said currently some 30,000 visitors from the Midland visit Jamaica, and he wants to see this number doubled, and the number of flights from the region tripled by next year.
Mrs Glasgow said the Meet Jamaica 2012 was an 18-month programme, which is aimed at supporting Jamaican businesses in general and the private sector in particular, while maximising the country’s potential to expand into the markets of the UK and wider Europe.
She said this will be done through a series of promotional events leading up the Olympics. The first of this event will be the country’s participation in the Taste of London event in June and a Jamaican restaurant week in August.
The launch also featured an exhibition of Jamaican goods and services by a number of food companies that were in the UK to participate in the four-day International Food and Drink Exhibition in London.
By VIVIENNE SIVA