DEEP TIES

Jamaica 2018 | DIPLOMACY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, on areas of opportunities for bilateral investment and the importance of Jamaica to Canada.

Honourable Chrystia Freeland
BIOGRAPHY
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P. was first elected a Member of Parliament in 2013 and was re-elected in 2015. An esteemed journalist and author, Freeland received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University before continuing her studies on a Rhodes Scholarship at the University of Oxford. She was a Ukraine-based stringer for the Financial Times, The Washington Post, and The Economist, and went on to become UK news editor, Moscow bureau chief, Eastern Europe correspondent, editor of the FT Weekend Magazine, and editor of FT.com. She also served as deputy editor of The Globe and Mail before becoming deputy editor and then US managing editor of the Financial Times. In 2010, she joined Canadian-owned Thomson Reuters and was a managing director of the company and editor of Consumer News when she decided to return home and enter politics.

Where do you see opportunities for increased bilateral trade and investment in the coming years?

Canada and Jamaica enjoy a strong trade relationship. In 2016, bilateral trade was valued at CAD316 million (USD255.5 million), with Canadian exports of CAD113.6 million (USD91.87 million) and imports from Jamaica of CAD202.4 million (USD163.7 million). The financial services sector has long been an area of Canadian economic engagement in Jamaica. Two major commercial banks in Jamaica are Canadian-owned: Scotiabank and CIBC First Caribbean International Bank (CIBC). Jamaica has always been a popular destination for sun-seeking Canadians and Canadian tourism providers have found excellent opportunities in the country. Canada and Canadian companies will continue to innovate in this sector as Jamaica explores sustainable and inclusive tourism options. Ecotourism is a growing sector of interest for Canadian companies, tour operators, and tourists alike. In terms of promising sectors for increased trade and investment, these include clean technologies and renewable energy, where Canada has substantial capabilities and experience. Particular strengths exist in solar energy, wind energy, bioenergy and biofuel technologies, small hydro, energy storage, and smart grid technologies.

How does Canada continue to aid Jamaica mitigate criminal activities?

Canada is a key international partner for Jamaica in its efforts to fight crime and violence. Jamaica has benefited from USD9 million in Canadian support since 2009 through the Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCBP) and the Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building Program (CTCBP). Assistance has been provided for training to tackle issues such as illicit drugs, corruption, human trafficking and migrant smuggling, crime prevention, security sector reform and proceeds of crime. Jamaica, along with the other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries, is a recipient of development assistance through the USD600 million, 12-year Caribbean Regional Development Program announced in 2007. Collectively, Canada currently supports justice reform in the Caribbean with four projects worth over CAD80 million (USD64.7 million), two of which are dedicated to Jamaica and two that cover all CARICOM member states, including Jamaica.

Canada hosts a significant Jamaican diaspora. What are the major contributions of this exchange of cultures?

Canadians and Jamaicans work in areas of key importance, including security, human rights, and development. The Jamaican-Canadian population is approximately 350,000 strong and makes vital contributions in both countries and to the broader bilateral relationship. Jamaican Canadians are particularly prominent and influential in the Toronto area. Canada and Jamaica have a longstanding history of academic cooperation through a variety of agreements between our education institutions and through scholarship programs. Approximately 3,500 Jamaicans study across Canada every year.

What role does the Canadian-Jamaican relationship play in Canada's foreign policy objectives for the region?

Jamaica is a close partner for Canada in the Caribbean region and an influential member of CARICOM. Canada and Jamaica celebrate 55 years of diplomatic relations in 2018, though our relations have even deeper roots. Our relationship is founded on shared values: we support the rules-based international order by collaborating within the Commonwealth, the UN, and the OAS. We enjoy a comprehensive relationship, covering trade and investment, security and defense, development cooperation, and people-to-people relations. On November 21, 2017, at the CARICOM-UN High Level Pledging Conference in New York, Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development, announced Canada's pledge of CAD100 million (USD80.8 million) to support reconstruction and climate resilience efforts in the Caribbean region over the next five years. Canada's contribution will help the most vulnerable people, including women and children, to rebuild more resilient communities so they can be better prepared for natural disasters. Particular attention will be given to specific projects aimed at reconstructing essential services, improving disaster risk management and emergency preparedness practices, supporting the role of women as leaders in reconstruction, and adopting climate-adaptation measures at the community level.