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Commercial success essential to diplomatic missions – Ahmad

Published:Sunday | February 23, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Asif Ahmad, United Kingdom high commissioner to Jamaica.
Sharifa Powell, new country director for the UK’s Department for International Trade.

Describing commercial success as essential to present-day diplomatic missions, British High Commissioner Asif Ahmad is underscoring the United Kingdom’s (UK) commitment to improving the capability and capacity of Jamaican exporters to sell more to the UK.

Ahmad, who was speaking with The Sunday Gleaner yesterday, exactly one week before his business-savvy brainchild, the third annual UK Jamaica Fair, takes shape, argued that Jamaica, like the UK, boasts high brand awareness, but strategic acumen is needed to increase trade and investment.

“The UK Jamaica Fair is an important way to remind people that we have entrepreneurs, innovators, products and services ready to meet the needs of people with increasing spending power and diverse lifestyles,” he reasoned.

Set to take place on the prestigious grounds of King’s House, the fair will provide sponsors and invitees with an arena to not only showcase innovation, but also establish connections and opportunities both locally and within the UK. The event is intended to bridge the gap between consumers, business owners and industry leaders from the UK and Jamaica, facilitating opportunities to improve trade, investment and economic collaboration.

“As Britain reaches out to the wider world, we want to be known as free traders. That is why we have agreed to a trade deal with friendly nations in the Caribbean, which will allow Jamaican exporters to access British markets with little or no customs duties,” the senior diplomat added.

“We want to help farmers grow products that can be prepared for sale all over the world, so the J$10 billion UKAid for Jamaican farmers is not just about sustainable irrigation. Just this year, we’ve seen where Jamaica National is ready to operate as a bank in the UK – a historic first for a regional bank.”

Ahmad further contended, “Additionally, Jamaica Producers is about to make a big investment in the UK. British entrepreneurs are putting together multimillion-dollar projects in Jamaica to make pulp from bamboo and renewable energy, and these successes will breed even more two-way success in the years ahead.”


New country director for the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT), Sharifa Powell, asserted that the fair presented a great opportunity for Jamaican businesses interested in trading with, or investing in, the UK to engage the DIT and get information on the UK market and its opportunities.

She further noted that on the Thursday and Friday preceding the fair, UK firms will be participating in a targeted market visit, to explore opportunities to collaborate with Jamaican companies across various sectors.

“By creating a tailor-made engagement programme which includes one-on-one business meetings and a UK-JA Networking Mixer, the DIT is keen to support UK traders and investors to explore the Jamaican market. With the goal of supporting commercial opportunities between the UK and Jamaica, we look forward to the visiting UK firms engaging with the public at the fair in the Business Pavilion,” she explained.

The UK Jamaica Fair continues to gain support from prominent brands such as The Jamaica National (JN) Group, National Bakery, Digicel, Virgin Atlantic, RJRGLEANER Communications Group, GraceKennedy, Kestrel, Jamaica Producers, Stewart’s Auto, CPJ, Tracks & Records, Rainforest Seafoods, Wisynco, Island Grill, Sandals, Ettenio, Saint International, ATL Auto, Cadbury, Twinings, Caribbean Council, Main Event, and Mother’s.


Meanwhile, Earl Jarrett, chief executive officer of platinum sponsors the JN Group, stated that his organisation welcomed the opportunity to partner for a third consecutive year with the High Commission.

Jarrett reasoned that the fair provides a space in which Jamaican companies can explore existing and potential links with UK companies and make connections to bolster economic and social exchanges that will not only be to Jamaica’s benefit, but will create a gateway for the Caribbean country to grow its investments in Britain.

“For more than three decades, the Jamaica National Group has played an influential role in building relationships between Jamaica and its diaspora in the United Kingdom,” Jarrett pointed out.

“Very soon we will launch JN Bank UK, the first Jamaican-owned commercial bank in the UK, to provide not only Jamaicans, but people of Caribbean descent in Britain with opportunities to deepen their economic and social relationships with the region. We are, therefore, mindful of the importance of access to the UK market for Jamaica and the wider region, as Britain also seeks to expand its partnerships globally.”

He added, “The UK economy is highly developed, is one of Jamaica’s top trading partners, and there are more than 800,000 Jamaicans in the UK. In addition to traditional exports, adding non-traditional Jamaican goods and services to meet the needs of our diaspora and other markets in the UK will further develop trade between our countries and help to support prosperity for our economy.”