Keen on growing trade and investment
New British high commissioner wants to strengthen tiesFriday, October 22, 2021
BY ARTHUR HALL
Recently accredited British High Commissioner to Jamaica Judith Slater has listed increasing trade and investment between the United Kingdom (UK) and the island as one of her main goals during her tour of duty.
In her maiden media interview since taking up the post, Slater told the Jamaica Observer that she wants to build on the close relationship between London and Kingston, while bringing her own brand and skills.
“I have quite a trade and investment background and the last couple of jobs was to develop trade, so I am keen to grow the trade and investment relationship between the UK and Jamaica.
“I think there is more we can do there. We should be exporting more to Jamaica and working with businesses. There have been some recent successes. We have a British company which has set up a call centre in western Jamaica called Ventrica, and then you have some good Jamaican investors already in the UK,” said Slater as she pointed to Jamaica National Bank, the first Caribbean bank to establish itself in London.
According to Slater, she also wants to work with Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) to ensure that there is a boost in trade between the two states.
“I want to strengthen the deep ties that already exist and find areas that we can do more than we have in the past, basically building on the strong foundation,” said the mother of two.
Slater told the Observer that one of her goals is to see more Jamaican products on the shelves in the UK.
“We have been doing some work. I was just talking to our people and we have put some money in, and we have helped… I think, more than 400 Jamaican companies to grow their entrepreneurship skills, and we are working in speciality fields, so helping some of those businesses to get onto the shelves in the UK and then getting British businesses out here.
“Obviously, COVID has been a setback not just for trade relationships between our two countries, but globally. It has led to some difficulties in encouraging British businesses to sort of put their toe in the water and come out to the Caribbean. I want to work with my colleagues in the other Caribbean islands because I think we can offer [UK] businesses to come out and perhaps set up here, but then they can export more throughout the region,” declared Slater, who is the first female British high commissioner to Jamaica.
“This is a great privilege [and] I am very excited about that, so I am keen to have good relationships with the many senior women that you have in business and in politics here,” said Slater, who has already had what she described as “a warm and constructive meeting” with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith.
Slater said she is also keen to meet Commodore Antonette Wemyss Gorman, who is poised to become Jamaica's first chief of defence staff next January.
“She is a world's first, I think. There might be one or two but she is certainly a strong woman,” said Slater as she noted that Jamaica now has a strong group of women ambassadors here who will all be working together.
Slater succeeded Asif Ahmad as Britain's top diplomat in Jamaica on October 13.
She was previously consulate general in Istanbul, Turkey. Prior to this, she was deputy high commissioner and South East Asia regional director of trade and investment in Singapore until September 2015.
Her previous posts include deputy high commissioner in Pretoria, South Africa, from 2007-2011 and British consul general in Houston, Texas, from 2004-2007.
Slater has a law degree from St John's College, Cambridge.