Jamaican companies should seek more partnerships with Germans - envoy
Laura Koch, Gleaner Intern
A German delegation has encouraged Jamaican companies to seek more economic co-operation with German partners. The representatives extended the invitation following a recent visit to the Jamaican-German Automotive School (JAGAS) in Kingston.
"There are so many private initiatives interested in more co-operation with Jamaica and other countries of the region", Thomas Neisinger told The Gleaner.
Neisinger is the regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean in the German foreign ministry. Often in his country, he says, they are looking for the opportunity to establish new ties.
After supporting the JAGAS financially for 20 years, Germany has stopped its direct development aid for Jamaica, as the country has been classified as a middle income development country in 2003.
However, German Ambassador Josef Beck acknowledged that JAGAS has kept the German part in its name.
"JAGAS is a very sustainable product, which still has the stamp of quality," Beck expressed. Some of the JAGAS instructors were trained in Germany - a country known for its luxury car brands, like Mercedes, BMW and Audi.
"We know that Jamaica has an interest, as do many countries in the world, in our vocational education training, " Ambassador Beck told the The Gleaner. He thinks this education would be "part of the economic success of Germany and the fact, that Germany has a low unemployment rate among young people."
In 2012, Jamaica imported German goods valued at more than US$55 million, according to figures from the German Foreign Ministry. Those imports are mainly cars, pharmaceutical products and different types of machinery. In comparison, Germany has imported Jamaican products valued at US$27 million in the same year.
JAGAS is meanwhile running on its own, and according to Beck, "The school does not need us anymore."
Started in 1976, JAGAS has 210 trainees annually and is also known in the Caribbean. Additionally, it has an Auto Clinic offering repair services to the public.