Millions of Dollars in Support Committed to Jamaica and Working Group to be Established to Facilitate Further Dialogue
Prime Minister Andrew Holness met with Vice President of the United States, the Honourable Kamala Harris at the White House on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.
Prime Minister Holness and Vice President Harris explored areas in which support and cooperation could be expanded between Jamaica and the United States. These include security, energy, capacity building, infrastructure development, and the creation of a nearshore digital technology hub.
Prime Minister Holness noted that his visit takes place within the context of Jamaica’s celebration of 60 years of independence as well as the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States. He highlighted Jamaica’s success in the implementation of reforms to strengthen public financial management and establish a strong, stable, and resilient macroeconomic environment. This he noted was because of the hard work and sacrifice of the Jamaican people.
To secure these gains, the Prime Minister said Jamaica must now turn its attention to addressing the vulnerabilities that had been exposed due to the ongoing pandemic, and other global developments. The Prime Minister highlighted economic growth, national security, energy security and human capacity development as areas of priority. He indicated that these are areas which would coincide with the interests of the United States, particularly as it relates to ensuring that the region is secure, peaceful, and prosperous.
In respect of security cooperation, the Prime Minister acknowledged the support of the United States, and highlighted areas for expanded cooperation such as:
- Intelligence and information sharing,
- Access to training, especially with regard to cyber security
- Assistance with the acquisition of security assets to expand Jamaica’s border security and management.
Prime Minister Holness also noted that greater support is needed from the United States to stem the flow of illegal guns into Jamaica.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister stated that Jamaica will redouble its efforts in tackling illegal trafficking of weapons and persons, lottery scamming and other transnational crimes. The Prime Minister said that greater partnership and collaboration with the United States on information sharing, extradition and other law enforcement assets will help to address these more decisively.
On the topic of energy, Prime Minister Holness said the US is the largest investor in Jamaica’s energy sector, however, he is advocating for greater investment in renewable energy and in Jamaica’s efforts to achieve energy security.
With regards to infrastructure development, the Prime Minister highlighted opportunities for the United States to make greater investments in Jamaica.
Addressing human capital development, Prime Minister Holness called for increased cooperation from the United States in support of an education revolution which will see the building of more schools and a focus on human resource development.
The Prime Minister highlighted Jamaica’s strong democratic traditions and noted that with its robust democracy, Jamaica was on a path toward ensuring prosperity of its people. He encouraged the United States to partner with Jamaica to promote prosperity together with the principles of democracy which are integral to the foreign policy of the United States.
In response, Vice President Harris expressed that the relationship between Jamaica and the United States is a valuable one.
In further addressing the matters raised by Prime Minister Holness, Vice President Harris stated that she understood Jamaica’s position and shared that there was mutual concern as it relates to crime. In this regard, she announced:
- An investment of US$10 million in violence reduction programmes and committed to exploring other ways of supporting Jamaica’s crime fighting efforts.
- Support for Jamaica’s trade and commerce sector by committing US$20 million for the sector’s expansion.
- Support to boost Jamaica’s COVID-19 recovery efforts.
- An investment of US$10 million in support of Jamaica’s and the region’s energy security ambitions.
Vice President Harris accepted the Prime Minister’s proposal to establish a working group to continue dialogue and to look specifically at Jamaica’s unique circumstances.
The Prime Minister thanked the Vice President for prioritizing the meeting with Jamaica, and for the support she committed. He also used the opportunity to personally commend her on her historic accomplishments and extended an invitation to join in celebrating Jamaica’s 60th anniversary of independence.
The Prime Minister stated that the United States and Jamaica enjoy a long and enduring relationship built on many shared principles and decades of fruitful partnership. He said he looked forward to working with the United States to leverage the strength of the partnership towards enhancing the security and well-being of both Jamaica and the United States.
The Prime Minister was joined at the meeting by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. Nigel Clarke and Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Audrey Marks.
The Prime Minister is on a working visit to Washington D.C. for meetings with high-level officials in the United States as well as a planned engagement with the Jamaican diaspora.