Georgia can anticipate increased trade with Jamaica under a Free Trade Area of the Americas, said Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson at a World Trade Center Atlanta luncheon last week.
Mr. Patterson said that Jamaica cannot vote for Atlanta to house the FTAA Secretariat, as it is committed to vote for Trinidad and Tobago because of pre-existing Caribbean trade agreements.
But he added that “if Atlanta is serious, it’s time to get active and come to Jamaica to push for the vote,” directing his comments to Andrew Young, moderator of the event.
Regardless of the location of the FTAA’s Secretariat, which is to be in place by 2005 and for which Atlanta is actively campaigning, Jamaica aims to continually increase trade ties with Georgia, Mr. Patterson said in response to a question by GlobalFax.
Jamaica already houses operations of several major Atlanta-based companies, including Mirant Corp. and Ritz-Carlton LLC, among others, he noted.
While tourism remains Jamaica’s main draw, new opportunities may arise because of Atlanta’s strengths in transportation that facilitate business with Jamaica, he added, noting that Atlanta is only a two-hour flight from Jamaica.
Delta Air Lines Inc. already has three daily flights to the island through a codeshare with Air Jamaican Inc. and plans to open a new direct flight in December.
Acquaculture, or the farming of fresh- and saltwater fish, shrimp and other seafood, may prove to be a growth area for trade, he noted. A Florida-based company, Transglobal Acquaculture Inc., recently opened a 1,500-acre shrimp farm in Jamaica, he said.
Opportunities may also arise in conjunction with the construction of a trans-island highway in the Caribbean, which Mr. Patterson said has been proposed by a French construction company.
Complete deregulation of Jamaica’s international voice and data telecommunications infrastructure is scheduled for completion by first quarter 2003, he said, so he expects information technology is to be a growing sector.
Mr. Patterson assured the audience that any change in administration following Jamaica’s elections this year would not mean changes in trade or commerce policy. “Your investments are safe and there is great potential for profit,” he said.
Atlanta agriculture, education, entertainment, hospitality, management services, manufacturing and professional services are invited to take advantage of Jamaica’s no-double-taxation policies, Mr. Patterson added. Foreign investors will also be assured protection of their intellectual property rights there through a new government office, he said.
For information on investing in Jamaica, visit www.investjamaica.com or call Jamaica’s investment promotion office toll-free at (888) 468-37-852.