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Big things lined up in Jamaica, Colombia alliance

BY HG HELPS Editor-at-Large helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, December 22, 2013    

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JAMAICA and Colombia are set to roll out key programmes, beginning early in the New Year, that will result in significant benefits for both countries, a Colombian official has said.

Apart from increased cooperation in education and sport, details of which have been caried by the Daily Observer, there is to be significant cooperation in agriculture, industry and commerce, culture, and defence.

William Bush, Colombia's Deputy Head of Mission at that South American country's embassy in Kingston, said that over the next two years, the spotlight of progress will be focused on improving life for the people of both countries.

"We have a free trade arrangement with Caricom already, but we have said that we want a free trade arrangement with Jamaica only. We are in talks with Jamaica's ministry of foreign affairs and foreign trade, as well as the ministry of trade and industry.

"Last week we had our eighth neighbourhood commission between both countries to establish cooperation for the next two years.

"Next year we will have an exchange programme with Jamaican farmers in the second phase of a cassava development programme that both countries have. We produce a lot of cassava and we will bring experts here, to work with farmers mainly from St Elizabeth," he said.

Already, Colombian business interests are lining up a large delegation to attend a trade Expo in Kingston from April 3 to 6 next year.

The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce will also have a strong Colombian presence at a conference for investors in Montego Bay during the year.

In the area of security and defence, both countries will strengthen their cooperation in respect of the protection of each other's coastline, through improved and increased activity with the coast guards of both nations.

"We will have an exchange of information on patrolling of the seas, as Colombia and Jamaica share a huge maritime frontier," Bush said.

"Trade between both countries can be improved and we are inviting Jamaican business people to export their products to Colombia.

"Now, Jamaican exports to Colombia are limited, as most of the items that go to Colombia are linked to the food industry. There are much more markets for Jamaican products.

"Also, Colombia exports things like foodstuff and toiletries from Colombia and more can be done in these and more areas, too," said Bush, who was posted to Jamaica from the Colombian capital, Bogota, last May, after previous postings as Colombia's Consul General in Vancouver, Canada, and one of the country's representatives at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC.

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