Wed | Feb 26, 2020

Donald R. Tapia | USA, Jamaica working to develop agriculture

Published:Saturday | January 18, 2020 | 12:17 AM

I read with interest a recent letter to the editor from Mr Winston Barrett. It provides an excellent opportunity to highlight what the US Embassy and US government are already doing to assist in the areas of agriculture and trade, as well as new opportunities. In addition, to noting the hypocrisies when it comes to comments related to the Communist Chinese government and USA foreign relations.

Mr Barrett is correct, Jamaica possesses outstanding agricultural potential and that potential needs to be developed. I am guessing Mr Barrett does not follow my social media or the embassy’s because he would have seen and read how I have repeatedly stated that I believe in a win-win relationship between Jamaica and the USA.

I have stated in public speeches that even with the current trade balance between Jamaica and the USA, which consists of US$3 billion of US exports to Jamaica and US$600 million of US imports from Jamaica, that Jamaica can and should increase its exports, especially in agricultural products to the USA. Including those noted by Mr Barrett.

I have also been very public in my support on the expansion of the Jamaican coffee industry and will continue to do so. I also believe that the Jamaican public can benefit from lower food prices when key barriers to trade are lower to allow USA companies and expertise to work with Jamaican businesses. For instance, US company Seaboard partnered with Jamaican company Seprod to launch Jamaica Grain and Cereals flour mill, and this new mill has led to a reduction in flour prices for everyday Jamaicans.

LOWER THE BARRIERS

Mr Barrett is correct that I have spoken often of my government’s concerns about the role of Communist Chinese government in Jamaica and the region. We believe in transparency.

I find it ironic that Mr Barrett chose to not disclose his close business ties with Chinese companies, all of whom will be connected to the Communist Chinese government. This lack of transparency is a hallmark of the way of business that the USA does not follow and does not believe is mutually beneficial.

Jamaica and the USA are and shall be mutually beneficial partners, including in agricultural products and trade. The US Embassy and I are already working hard to increase those ties and cooperation.

Jamaicans can help us by lowering the barriers that hold up those opportunities. And ours is and will be a working relationship based on transparency and trust!

Donald R. Tapia is the ambassador of the United States to Jamaica. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com