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Patterson, Fox agree to joint action on trade promotion

Jamaica Observer, Kingston

Patterson, Fox agree to joint action on trade promotion

ARLENE MARTIN-WILKINS, Observer staff reporter

5 May 2005

JAMAICA and Mexico have agreed to joint action to promote bilateral trade and investment between the two countries, following discussions between Prime Minister PJ Patterson and Mexican president Vincente Fox yesterday.

Mexico announced that it will conduct a review of the San Jose Accord, an agreement that governs the terms under which Jamaica purchases oil from that country and Venezuela, with a view to increasing Jamaica’s access to available resources under the accord.

Outstanding issues to be looked at during the review process will include funding for the construction of a convention centre in St James.

At the same time, the two countries are looking at the possibility of a multi-destination package that could see a flow of tourists between the two nations.

Fox, who arrived in the island on Tuesday, was on a one-day working visit. He led a delegation of 25 ministers of government, parliamentarians and private sector interests.
The party left the island yesterday evening.

Representatives of the Mexican private sector met with their Jamaican counterparts yesterday at a meeting facilitated by Jampro.

"We look forward to a more evenly spread balance of trade in the near future based on initiatives to be developed from these discussion," Patterson later told journalists at a press briefing at Jamaica House yesterday.

Patterson said the implementation of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) would have much to offer to the Latin American giant.

"By 2006, all member states will become fully CSME-compliant and countries like Mexico will be able to explore the range of trade and investment opportunities offered by a ready market of goods and services across the community," said the PM.

Both heads of government engaged in a wide range of discussions at the regional and bilateral level, and developments at the Organisation of American States (OAS) for much of yesterday.

Mexico recently decided to withdraw its candidacy for general secretary of the OAS, a move it said would contribute to unity. Chile’s Jose Miguel Insulza was elected to the post Monday.

Patterson and Fox also examined the role of the Association of Caribbean States and expressed hope that negotiations on the Free Trade Area of the Americas treaty would resume shortly.

"The FTAA is an important element of the hemispheric process and it is one which provides a useful mechanism for boosting trade and investment within the region," Patterson noted.

The prime minister also disclosed that Mexico has agreed to offer 80 scholarships over a four-year period to Jamaican students to pursue studies in diverse fields at Mexican tertiary institutions.

Yesterday, both heads of government reaffirmed their commitment to work together at the regional, hemispheric and international levels to promote the social, political and economic development of Haiti - a country mired in political turmoil since the ousting of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide more than a year ago.

"We are prepared to listen to the proposals and analysis from our neighbours closer to Haiti and will work to come up with a mutual solution," Fox said, noting that Mexico is prepared to work together as a coalition with Jamaica and the region on a whole for the benefit of all.

Jamaica has long had bilateral ties with Mexico, particularly under the San Jose Accord that allows the island to import oil from the Latin American country on long-term credit if the savings are used for local development projects.

Yesterday, both countries signed a joint communiqué "reaffirming the fruitful and wide-ranging discussions" during the half day of talks.