EU glad to see Ja's economy recovering
Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica can learn from the economic reforms undertaken by member states of the European Union in recent years and which are beginning to bear fruit, according to Ambassador Paola Amadei, head of the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Jamaica.
Amadei noted that while, like the EU, Jamaica is still facing challenges such as high unemployment, especially among young people, and the difficulties brought on by very strict austerity measures, things are looking up.
"Similar to the EU, Jamaica has experienced, in the last two years, a challenging environment, but we are glad to see that the unparalleled reforms have allowed the country to return to a sustainable growth path, although the process of recovery is still long," the ambassador said during Europe Day celebrations at her residence last Thursday.
"The European Union has seen some difficult times over the last few years, and situations when the determination of our leaders was clearly put to the test. While a lot of work still lies ahead, there is reason for optimism."
In fact, she said, it was in response to a more stable macro-economic programme in Jamaica that the EU had resumed its significant budgetary support to the island, resulting in the disbursement of more than J$7 billion last year, with the country earmarked to receive a similar amount over the course of this year.
UNDERPIN VITAL REFORMS
"These payments - all grants - serve to underpin vital reforms undertaken in Jamaica in public-finance management, in the security sector, in rural development, and in education," Amadei said. "New programmes covering justice and security, poverty alleviation, health and community development, as well as trade promotion, were signed for a global amount of J$14 billion."
Amadei noted that with Jamaica and the EU sharing common objectives in areas such as the fight against organised crime, global climate change, and cooperation in multilateral fora, her organisation remained committed to further strengthening this dialogue.
Under the Economic Partnership Agreement signed in 2008, Jamaica now enjoys duty- and quota-free access to the largest consumer market in the world, with the 28 member states of the EU having more than half a billion inhabitants.