Sun | Dec 15, 2019

Spain could be Jamaica’s door into Europe post-Brexit

Published:Thursday | November 14, 2019 | 12:30 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Josep Bosch, ambassador of Spain to Jamaica, makes a toast with Fayval Williams, minister of science, energy and technology, at Spain’s National Day celebration on November 7.

Spain is being pitched by its ambassador to Jamaica as the preferred hub into the European Union, replacing the United Kingdom when Brexit takes effect.

Ambassador Josep Bosch, who has touted centuries-long ties between Jamaica and his homeland, said that current EU laws and logistical requirements demand that almost 100 per cent of all local goods destined for those markets go through Britain first before being distributed throughout the continent.

“So if there ends up being a barrier between England and Europe, after Brexit is settled, then probably the distribution point would move to other EU countries, and so Spain could be that entry door for Jamaican goods entering Europe,” Bosch told The Gleaner.

“Spain, by itself, is a very good location to receive these goods for distribution across the entire continent.”

Brexit is the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU on the back of a June 2016 referendum in which nearly 52 per cent of the British people voted to leave.

Outgoing EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker noted recently that Brexit would happen by the end of January 2020 but warned that it would take a much longer time to hammer out a new trade deal.

Endless possibilities

The latest available data show that Jamaica exported a paltry US$493,000 worth of goods to Spain in 2017 while importing nearly 1,000 times more, with the figure standing at US$46.77 million.

“Jamaica has very negligible numbers in terms of goods exported to Spain – almost non-existent. Jamaican Scotch bonnet pepper and Blue Mountain coffee are the exception. But I see a lot of possibilities, in my opinion,” Bosch told The Gleaner.

The ambassador added that because of the Brexit conundrum, Britain would no longer be part of the EU customs union and that specific limitations would force importers and distributors to seek new markets across the EU. Spain, he said, could be Jamaica’s best bet.

“I am from Barcelona, and that city has a big harbour, so in my view, it could be one of the best locations for this distribution activity,” said Bosch.